Tubbataha salvage operation begins
MANILA, Philippines - Finally, the salvage operation to remove the USS Guardian that ran aground Tubbataha Reef Natural Park has started.
Thanks to better weather condition in the area on Friday, February 22, the Gibraltar-flagged Jascon 25, the lead crane ship in the salvage operation, has started establishing its position about 20 meters from the ship.
At around 9:30 a.m., the salvage crew began analyzing how to cut up the USS Guardian to remove it from the area, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesman Armand Balilio said.
"Salvage team continue to transfer and unload light items and equipment from USS Guardian aboard Jascon 25. There has been no cutting yet of the ship's superstructure. Loose items and equipment on deck are given priority," PCG Palawan Cmdr Efren Evangelista said in a text message.
"Salvage operation will probably continue through the night until such time salvage operation becomese inadvisable for the safety of the [salvage crew," he added.
For a week, bad weather has kept the crew from operating Jascon 25 without anchoring.
Under the original salvage plan, the cranes were to lift the whole USS Guardian from the reef, but the Americans later changed their mind and decided to dismantle the minesweeper into sections and transfer these to a barge with the cranes, without moving the vessel to minimize damage to the coral.
The minesweeper ran aground over a month ago inside the protected area of the marine park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world's top scuba diving destinations. - Rappler.com