Cutting of USS Guardian’s hull underway

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01:09 PM March 21st, 2013

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By: Jerry E. Esplanada, March 21st, 2013 01:09 PM

In a photo released by the U.S. Navy, the mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian sits aground in this Jan. 22, 2013 file photo on the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea in the Philippines. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The dismantling of the USS Guardian continued on Thursday with the cutting and removal of an undisclosed number of “small compartments below the main deck” of the grounded US Navy minesweeper, according to the spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard.

Citing a report from the PCG-led Task Force Tubbataha in Palawan, Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo, chief of the Coast Guard’s public affairs office, said “the salvage operation progressed with works mainly below the main deck.”

The US Navy-contracted salvage team also “cut and opened a portion of the main deck to get access to the ship’s hull,” he told the Inquirer in a text message.

Balilo said the salvage team continued “cutting and securing pipelines and other pipes connected to different compartments below the main deck.”

The Tubbataha task force, headed by Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, chief of the PCG’s  Palawan district, reported  that the weather in the reef area continued to be favorable.

Early this week, Evangelista said preparations were under way for the cutting of the hull, or the outer shell of the USS Guardian, which has been grounded on the reef since January 17.

Last week, the ship’s four engines, as well as its two diesel generators and fantail cranes, were removed by the lead crane ship Jascon 25 and transferred to the barge Seabridge S-700.

The ship dismantling operation began on February 22 but was suspended at least four times due to bad weather.

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