Coast Guard concerned over crane ships' possible damage to Tubbataha

Could the crane ships sent to help extract the US minesweeper USS Guardian from Tubbataha Reef add to the problem by further damaging the reef? The crane ship SMIT Borneo from Singapore (left) arrived off the coast of Palawan on Sunday to help extricate the USS Guardian from Tubbataha Reef. Reuters/PHL Coast Guard/HO The Philippine Coast Guard aired this concern as it noted the SMIT Borneo, which is heading for the reef, may need to drop anchor over a part of the reef, radio dzBB reported Tuesday.

"Magkakaroon kasi ng pag-a-anchor ang salvage vessel. It will add more damage pag nag-ankorahe sa Tubbataha Reef," it quoted Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo as saying.

SMIT Borneo arrived in the Philippines

Sunday and is now on its way to Tubbataha Reef from Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.

A second crane ship is due to arrive but there is no definite date yet on when it will come, the dzBB report said.

For his part, Task Force Tubbataha Commodore Enrico Evangelista said they are not yet sure when to start the salvage work due to the weather conditions.

Evangelista was quoted in the report as saying they have to wait for the waves in the area to subside.

"Ang alon siyempre safety consideration. Hindi pwede magsimula ang pagtanggal (hangga't hindi safe)," he said.

Meanwhile, Task Force Tubbataha was to meet anew Tuesday to discuss the use of the crane ship in extracting the minesweeper. —KG, GMA News

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