Salvage team removes USS Guardian’s bridge deck
MANILA, Philippines – The USS Guardian dismantling operation continued on Sunday shortly after the vessel’s bridge deck was successfully lifted and transferred to a barge by the crane ship Jascon 25, said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Lt. Commander Armand Balilo, the PCG spokesperson, on Sunday said “the Guardian’s Level 2 (bridge deck) had been transferred to the (support ship) Archon Tide and later moved to the barge Seabridge.”
In a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he also said “the remaining equipment and materials at Level 2 have been removed piece by piece.”
“The lifting of the bridge deck on Saturday went well and was successful as planned and without any untoward incidents,” Balilo also disclosed, citing a report from the PCG team closely monitoring the salvage operation in the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea.
Earlier, he reported that while the weather in the reef area had been very good and the ship dismantling operation was progressing, the PCG did not “discount the possibility that the March 23 deadline for the removal of the Guardian from the reef may be extended.”
Balilo said that “aside from the changing weather conditions in the Sulu Sea, the salvage team is also considering the structural integrity of the ship, as well as newly discovered obstacles in dismantling the Guardian’s superstructure.” He did not elaborate.
Last week, the dismantling of the Guardian resumed with the removal of the vessel’s mast and funnel by the Jascon 25, which the Coast Guard said was the main vessel tasked with dismantling the grounded US Navy ship.
Aside from the Guardian, the Jascon 25, Archon Tide and the Seabridge, eight other vessels were in the vicinity, either involved in the salvage operation or observing the operations, including the PCG search-and-rescue ship, the BRP Pampanga.
The 68-meter US Navy mine countermeasure ship ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-designated World Heritage Site, on Jan. 17 while on its way to Indonesia after a brief stop in Puerto Princesa City.
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