MANILA, Philippines - Workers are ready to dismantle the bridge of the US Navy minesweeper USS Guardian on the way to its complete removal from Tubbataha Reef in Palawan.
Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, Coast Guard district commander in Palawan, said yesterday workers have successfully removed the funnel or smokestack and the mast of the 68-meter Guardian.
“We are preparing for the 02 level for removal,” he said. “This includes the cutting of the bolts, cables, wires prior to the lifting and inspection of the lifting points.”
Workers from the SMIT Borneo, the US Navy, Malayan Towage and Salvage Corp. have been busy clearing the equipment below the weather deck and the loose debris at the main deck of the ship.
The weather at the site has been cooperative and workers were able to perform the tasks they have set in terms of removing the US ship, Evangelista said.
The Guardian ran aground at the atoll on Jan. 17 around 3 a.m. while traveling towards Indonesia. The accident damaged some 4,000 square meters of coral reef.
Tubbataha Reef is a United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. It is home to no less than 600 species of fish, 360 species of corals, 11 species of sharks, 13 species of dolphins and whales, 100 species of birds and also serves as the nesting place for hawksbill and green sea turtles.