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PCG confident of beating deadline for USS Guardian's dismantling

Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2013 - 4:15pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported "significant" progress in the salvaging of US Navy minesweeper USS Guardian stuck on Tubbataha reef in Sulu Sea.

Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista said in a statement on Wednesday that the past days' good weather allowed his team to continue the ship's dismantling.

Evangelista, who heads the Tubbataha task force, also expressed confidence in meeting the March 23 "optional" deadline for the total removal of the ill-fated ship from the reef, if weather conditions continue to allow the activities.

"The operations currently on going for the clearing of equipment below weather deck as well as the removal of sonar winch at the bow," Bautista said, referring to the next leg of the operation carried out using other sea vessels.

The PCG said on Tuesday that it has removed the mast and funnel of the ship.

The PCG added the the US ship has now been salvaged "beyond economical repair" to prevent its further damage on the marine sanctuary, considered as among the largest and richest in the world.

Ten other vessels including a crane Jascon 25, barge Smit Borneo and US-issued salvage ship USS Salvor are present at the site.

The 79-man crew of the unfortunate minesweeper, meanwhile, are scheduling a formal ceremony to honor the services of the 23-year-old USS Guardian.

BAUTISTA COMMODORE ENRICO EFREN EVANGELISTA EVANGELISTA JASCON PCG PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD SHIP SMIT BORNEO SULU SEA TUBBATAHA
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