MANILA, Philippines - Salvors on Friday returned to Tubbataha Reef to resume the salvage operations of the United States (US) Navy ship USS Guardian after Tropical Depression “Crising” left the country.
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Palawan District commander Enrico Efren Evangelista said that the salvors, including the primary crane ship M/V Jascon 25, returned to the site because the weather condition has already improved.
As of Friday morning, M/V Jascon 25 was only 20 meters away from the USS Guardian that ran aground last month.
The salvage team as of 9:30 a.m. has installed the reference beacons that would be used by M/V Jascon 25 “to position itself near and as safe as possible to the USS Guardian to operate her cranes for lifting operations later during the salvage operations."
Twelve salvors have also boarded the USS Guardian for the dismantling of the ship.
The crane barge SMIT Borneo, along with Archon Tide and Tug Intrepid, have arrived at the atoll joining the other salvors USNS Wally Schirra, Trabajador 1 with barge S-7000 and BRP Romblon.
Evangelista said they also aim to accomplish other activities in line with the preparation for the actual dismantling and cutting of the hull of the US minesweeper ship, such as completely unloading all the perishable goods from the USS Guardian to the Tugboat Intrepid, for disposal.
The salvaging operation was suspended for two days because of the strong winds and big waves that was brought about by Tropical Depression “Crising”.
The USS Guardian left Subic on January 15 at 9:55 a.m. and ran aground at the atoll on January 17 between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. as it was traveling toward Indonesia.
The 68-meter minesweeper, which has 79 crewmembers, was reportedly carrying 15,000 gallons of automotive diesel oil (ADO).
It has been estimated that the grounding incident damaged 4,000 square meters of the coral reef. The Tubbataha Reef is one of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.
The roughly estimated 10,000-hectare Tubbataha Reef is home at least 600 species of fish, 360 species of corals, 11 species of sharks, 13 species of dolphins and whales, 100 species of birds and it also serve as the nesting for Hawksbill and Green sea turtles.