From the Philippine Star (Feb 1): Phl launches independent probe on stuck US Navy ship
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has started its independent inquiry to
determine the real circumstances surrounding the grounding of the United States
Navy minesweeper in Tubbataha Reef off Sulu Sea.
PCG Commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena said today that a Maritime
Casualty Investigation Team (MCIT) was created to gather the physical and
documentary evidence needed to know why the US Navy vessel strayed into the
protected area. This, even after the park rangers manning the reef warned them
that they were dangerously treading a sheltered area.
He said that Rear Admiral Luis Tuason, who heads PCG's MCIT, met with Rear
Admiral Thomas Carney, the on-scene commander of the salvage operations to
gather technical data on the maritime incident.
The MCIT was created on top of the Task Force Tubbataha that was formed right
after USS Guardian ran aground in the maritime protected area on Jan. 17.
Concerned government officials already briefed President Benigno Aquino III
on the situation at the Tubbataha Reef today.
Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino asked for the
timetable in salvaging the vessel, but he did not give any deadline.
The president was also informed that the United States has decided to
disassemble the vessel before vertically extricating it from the site instead of
physically lifting the whole ship, she added.
The USS Guardian, which came from a port call in Subic Bay in northern
Philippine province of Zambales, was enroute to its next port of destination
when it ran aground in Tubbataha Reef almost two weeks ago. It has been stuck in
the reef since then. The task force has initially estimated that 1,000 square
meters of the corals have been damaged.