MANILA, Philippines – Two crane ships from Singapore are arriving before the end of the month to extract the USS Guardian from Tubbataha Reef in Palawan, the Philippine Coast Guard said Friday.
“They are waiting for two ships with heavy cranes that will be coming from Singapore and then they will try to set it up on how to lift the vessel,” said Coast Guard Commandant, Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena.
Isorena said there are presently three salvage ships in the area. “They feel that these three vessels are not enough to lift the USS Guardian."
Once the ships from Singapore arrive, they will lift the vessel, transfer it to another ship and bring it to a shipyard.
The minesweeper ship ran aground on January 17 at the heritage site destroying at least 1,000 square meters of coral reefs.
“Yesterday they have started defueling the vessel and at the same time they started taking out essential equipment from the vessel to lighten it up. The defueling process will be completed tomorrow (Saturday),” he said.
The commandant added that part of their investigation will determine how the war ship managed to enter a restricted area.
“Maski kami nagtataka bakit doon sila dumaan,” he said.
Ships about to enter the restricted area must first secure a permit from the Tubbataha Reef Foundation.
He explained that not all areas in the country have Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) which could monitor approaching ships.
“Dito sa area wala po tayo kaya di po natin pwedeng ma-monitor yung mga pumapasok na barko sa Tubbahata Reef. Ang meron lang tayo ay yung VHF radio wherein we can call yung vessel kung na monitor na pumapasok,” he said. ANC, Headstart