US ship removed from Tubbataha reef by April?


Posted at Feb 05 2013 08:12 PM | Updated as of Feb 06 2013 04:12 AM

MANILA - A US Navy minesweeper that ran aground at Tubbataha reef could be removed from the world heritage site by April, at earlier, according to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

The timetable is in the salvage plan that the US Navy  submitted to the Tubbataha Management Office and to the Palawan provincial government, PCG commandant Rear Adm. Rodolfo Isorena said Tuesday.

"The timeline is April and they factored in the weather condition," he said.

However, the removal of the USS Guardian could be earlier or later than April because of the weather in the Sulu Sea, according to the Coast Guard official.

He said the US Navy wants to dismantle the ship instead of just pulling or lifting it from the reef.

"We are trying to get the views of the Tubbataha Management Office and provincial government, if they are amenable to the salvage plan that was presented," he added.

"If they will not conform, then hopefully they can provide us an option. If they will not provide another option, then we might as well approve or agree to the plan. But based on our study, we feel that the it (salvage plan) is the best option," Isorena said.

One crane barge that will be used to remove the stricken ship has arrived in the country from Singapore and is already in the area where the USS Guardian got stuck.

A World Wildlife Fund-Philippines official earlier said leaving the grounded USS Guardian in Tubbataha Reef may be a better idea than salvaging the wreck.

WWF-Philippines President Lory Tan, who is also a member of the Tubbataha Management Board, said this may be a better option considering the damage extended salvage operations may pose on the site.

“This is a ticking taxi meter and with every wave, every hour, the damage will increase. I believe personally believe that they cannot anchor, that we cannot make exceptions just to allow them to take the boat out,” he told ANC's Headstart on Tuesday.