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Completion of salvage operations on US ship moved to March 23

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - From the initial assessment of three weeks, the planned complete removal of the USS Guardian has been moved to March 23, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said yesterday.

PCG commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena said their US counterparts submitted a revised salvage plan assigning the M/T Jascon 25 as the primary ship in the salvaging operations instead of the Smit Borneo.

“In the revised plan, Jascon 25 is the main asset to dismantle USS Guardian,” Isorena said.

PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said they have set a new timetable for the completion of the salvaging works, taking several factors into consideration.

“The timeline is mainly based on the assumption that everything will work according to the plan, such as the scheduled activities would be executed, the number of workers would be met and that there would be no problem in terms of the workability of the assets,” he said.

Balilo said weather conditions would also play an important role on the progress of the salvaging operation.

At the moment, wreck removal operations would be limited to daytime but there might be need to work during night time, he said.

“We would assess the situation on a day-to-day basis since we could not identify the glitches,” Balilo said.

Balilo said Jascon might have been chosen because of its capability to lift heavier parts of the ship compared to the Borneo. Both vessels came from Singapore.

Jascon is capable of lifting 800 tons while Borneo is limited to only 500 tons.

Jascon also has a dynamic positioning system and would no longer need an anchor to keep it stable during the operation. It has the capability to stay or maintain its position even if it does not lower its anchor. It is expected to arrive on Feb. 16.

Borneo, on the other hand, needs four of its anchors latched on the seabed to make it stable.

The Guardian ran aground at Tubbataha Reef last Jan. 17 as it was transiting from Subic to Indonesia. It was reportedly carrying 15,000 gallons of automotive diesel oil.

It has been estimated that the incident has damaged 4,000 square meters of coral.

The US Navy has also hired the services of salvaging ships M/T Trabajador 1 of Malayan Towage and Salvaging Corp. and the Vos Apollo of a Malaysian company based in Singapore. The US Navy’s USNS Salvor is also at the site.

Before cutting up the vessel into pieces, all the fuel inside the ship had been removed, along with other materials that could be taken out without damaging the ship.

BALILO COMMANDER ARMAND BALILO JASCON MALAYAN TOWAGE AND SALVAGING CORP PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD REAR ADMIRAL RODOLFO ISORENA SMIT BORNEO T JASCON T TRABAJADOR TUBBATAHA REEF
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