Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dismantling of USS Guardian stuck on Tubbataha Reef nears completion

From InterAksyon (Mar 17): Dismantling of USS Guardian stuck on Tubbataha Reef nears completion

The dismantling of the United States Navy minesweeper USS Guardian from Tubbataha Reef in Sulu Sea is nearing completion, Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, Palawan district commander of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), said Sunday.

Evangelista said the salvage team hired by the U.S. Navy to disassemble the ship is now "preparing for the cutting of the hull."

If the weather is good then it will only take six days to dismantle the ship’s hull,” the PCG commander added.

The minesweeper has been stuck on the marine sanctuary since January 17, 2013 and has reportedly destroyed more than 4,000 square meters of the supposedly no-navigation World Heritage Site. The U.S. government has pledged to pay for the damage.

Evangelista said the dismantling could probably be completed within this month as originally scheduled by the US Navy.

“[M] ost of the work is done below deck. The focus (now) of the salvage team is the preparation of the hull for cutting and lifting,” Evangelista said.

Earlier, the U.S. Navy said it would finish removing the grounded minesweeper of the 7th Fleet on or before March 23. However, due to intermittent bad weather that prevented the early salvage of the ship , the U.S. Navy moved the deadline to complete the dismantling to the second week of April.

Leading the salvage operation is the Jascon-25 crane ship hired by the US Navy from Singapore. Supporting the operations are the USS Safeguard, USNS Wally Shirra, SMIT Borneo, Barge S-700 (Seabridge), Tug Archon Tide, Tug Intrepid, Vos Hercules and Malayan Towage salvage vessel Trabajador-1.

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