Coast Guard to assess impact on Tubbataha after USS Guardian grounding incident

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has asked the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to study the impact on the environment of the USS Guardian's grounding in Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea and submit an initial assessment report.

DOTC Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya gave the order as the country makes a high-level government-to-government communication with the US on the incident.

Abaya asked the PCG to undertake the necessary environmental reponse operations such as laying of an oil spill boom if necessary.

Last Thursday, the USS Guardian ran aground in Tubbataha Reef, a protected site.

Meanwhile, PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo revealed that right after the grounding incident, a crisis management team was formed and a meeting held at the Palawan Coast Guard District headquarters.

Balilo said the marine pollution vessel AE-891 was deployed to the area where the USS Guardian ran aground in the Sulu Sea. The vessel is expected to arrive Monday evening.

Meanwhile, the PCG formed a fact-finding team on Monday to probe deeper into the incident.

Coast Guard head Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena designated Coast Guard Palawan commander Commodore Eric Evangelista as head of the team, radio dzBB's Carlo Mateo reported.

Isorena was also to fly to Palawan to get a firsthand look at the situation, the report said.

The US Navy said it is looking into the possibility faulty chart data

could have misled the minesweeper.

But on Monday, Tubbataha Management Office superintendent Angelique Songco said the USS Guardian's crew ignored communications from her rangers.

Songco said the rangers tried to communicate with them to warn them they are nearing a protected area, but the crew told the rangers to communicate with the US Embassy. —KG, GMA News

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