Coast Guard eyes final report on USS Guardian in 10 days

Now that it has received documents from the US Navy, a Philippine investigation body expects to complete by end-April or early May its investigation into the grounding of the minesweeper USS Guardian at Tubbataha Reef last Jan. 17.

The Philippine Maritime Casualty Investigation Team (MCIT) expects to produce its report in about 10 days, radio dzBB's Cecilia Villarosa reported Monday afternoon.

Coast Guard Palawan commander Commodore Enrico Evangelista, MCIT vice chairman, said the documents they got from the US Navy will be a big help in finalizing their report, the report said.

Evangelista was part of the MCIT delegation that met with US Navy investigators last April 18 at the US 7th Fleet Coordination Group's Operations Center at the US Naval Base in Yokosuka in Japan.

The USS Guardian ran aground at Tubbataha Reef last Jan. 17, and damaged 2,345.67 square meters of the reef. It was cut and removed from the area last March 30.

On Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the six-member MCIT received additional documents from the USN investigators.

It added the Philippine Coast Guard is conducting a separate safety of navigation inquiry on the USS Guardian incident, "and the USN documents will augment the data and other information of the PCG."

During the meeting, the US Navy officials informed the MCIT the final report on their investigation will be released soon.

The DFA said the MCIT's safety inquiry aims to establish the cause of the grounding, and to identify measures that may be undertaken by the Philippines and the US to prevent a repeat of the incident.

Other members of the MCIT include:

- DFA Assistant Secretary Gilberto Asuque, Ocean Concerns Office, DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Special and Oceans Concerns - Capt. Gregorio Ilagan Adel Jr., PCG Batangas commander - Capt. Rolando Punzalan Jr., PCG Manila commander - Lt. Cmdr. Fatima Alelia Angeles, PCG Legal Service commander.

—KG, GMA News

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