USS Guardian set to be lifted from Tubbataha Reef


The bow of the US minesweeper Guardian is lifted for placing on a barge during shipbreaking operation by a Singaporean salvor company to remove the ship from the protected Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea. The Guardian ran aground on the reef in January, and has to be broken up to save the reef from further damage. PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD

MANILA, Philippines – The final sections of a US Navy ship that has been stuck on a UN World Heritage-listed coral reef in the Philippines for more than 10 weeks are set to be removed within days, an official said Thursday.

The USS Guardian’s bow was cut and lifted onto a salvage vessel this week, and good weather should lead to the removal of the rest of the ship by Monday, Tubbataha Reef marine park superintendent Angelique Songco said.

“They continue to work, hopefully all done by April 1,” Songco told AFP by text message.

The 68-metre (223-foot) minesweeper ran aground on Tubbataha in a remote part of the Sulu Sea on January 17, damaging a section of reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its rich marine life.

It sparked widespread condemnation across the Philippines, a former US colony.

The US government has apologized for the accident, which it initially blamed on faulty maps. The Philippines said it would impose fines.

Due to fears that towing it to deeper waters would inflict more damage on the reef, the US government agreed to scrap and dismantle the Guardian, which was worth about $277 million.

A series of photographs released by the US Navy on Wednesday showed its front section hanging by crane cables above the water, part of its wooden hull and its metal innards facing the camera.

Salvors began dismantling the ship on February 26, but bad weather caused them to miss their March 23 target to complete their work.

Songco said a joint team of US and Filipino divers would assess the extent of the reef damage after the vessel was removed.

Under a 2010 law that made Tubbataha a protected area, the US Navy could face a multi-million-dollar fine for damaging coral, said Gregg Yan, spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund Philippines.

The WWF helps the government manage Tubbataha.

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  • makinagulingon_nasud


    • andresa igbac

      if you know so well about it, so why didn’t you complain, instead of just posting in this forum? (you said “without concern or complaint”)

      • Crazy_horse101010

        when people complain they die ive watched reefs being blasted for 15 years in broad daylight in front of government buildings and tourist beaches no one does anything i heard 7 blasts in one hour last week in sight of the nearest town the reefs behind my house are destroyed when they stop truck loaded with blasted fish from palawan they take the fish and send the truck off on its own. there has been even been tourists blown out of the water but it still goes on every day. 70 percent of the reefs in the philippines is destroyed and they know about because its on the internet and in the papers and are you a forum judge dont like it dont read it

      • makinagulingon_nasud

        THANK GOD THAT, UNLIKE YOU, THERE ARE FILIPINOS WHO ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES…THEY DO NOT TRY TO COVER UP……THEY SHOUT IT OUT….Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the DENR-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, said one of the turtles killed measured 40 inches and was aged “80 to 100 years old.”
        “There were also small ones who were only juveniles or just 4 years old,” Lim said.
        The crime was described as “the rape of the ocean.”
        Poachers decimated an entire “reef complex”—almost twice as big as Manila—off the coast of Cotabato province when they harvested more than 21,000 pieces of black coral and killed 161 endangered turtles and other marine life, officials said Tuesday.
        One of the turtles killed was a male aged 80 to 100 years old.
        Bureau of Customs officials intercepted the contraband two weeks ago and recovered 134 bundles, or 21,169 pieces, of “sea fan” black corals and 15 bundles, or 196 kilograms, of “sea whip” black corals.
        “The Moro Gulf and the Sulu Sea off Cotabato are supposed to be unexplored reef areas but with this collection, we can see that they have also been disturbed,” said Ludivina Labe, a senior marine biologist of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
        “It’s like a forest that has been cut down,” Labe said. “One reef complex was decimated.”
        Labe spoke with reporters during the turnover of the seized black corals, dead sea turtles and 7,300 pieces of sea shells to officials of BFAR and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources at the port of Manila.

      • Crazy_horse101010

        ive bought sea tirtles here for 500 pisos each to keep them from being eaten. i put them back in the ocean and hope they dont get caught again and have to buy them again

      • makinagulingon_nasud


      • Crazy_horse101010

        i have been called a liar many times over the reefs.they say it never happens anymore or theres laws against it. if anything its getting worse because of the fewer fish. i seen a bay south of me get wiped out from using nets they pull in from shore the holes are supposed to be a certain diameter but they double them up and this is front of the brgy. hall i go to beaches on monday and theres dirty diapers plastic bags and broken bottles everywhere and this is a tourist beach with garbage cans everywhere

    • BIGButo

      You have a very good point.

  • pepito gwaps

    American: The damage we had inflicted to the coral reefs is so enormous so better slice our ship. It might help.

  • Gregg Yan

    Hi guys! A correction for this article: the Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park became a marine sanctuary back in ’88 – so it’s been protected by TMO for 25 full years. Thanks!

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