Grounded ‘USS Guardian’ Transfering Hazardous Materials; Fuel Draining Complete

[img:1]

DRAINING FUEL - Malaysian tugboat, 'Vos Apollo (foreground), prepares for defueling operations near the 'USS Guardian,' which remains stuck on Tubbataha Reef on Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. Diesel fuel has been emptied from the tanks of the US Navy warship. (Courtesy: Aircrewman 3rd Class Geoffrey Trudell/USN)

MANILA, Philippines --- As they wait for the arrival of crane ships from Singapore that will lift USS Guardian from the Tubbataha Reef, United States Navy (USN) personnel will continue to retrieve and transfer weapons and hazardous materials from the stranded minesweeper to another USN ship.

This developed as United States Ambassador to Manila Harry K. Thomas Jr. yesterday conveyed to the Philippine government and its people his profound regret over the grounding of the USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef.

"This was an unfortunate accident, and I recognize the legitimate concerns over the damage caused to a unique and precious wonder of nature, internationally recognized for its beauty and biological diversity," Ambassador Thomas said in a statement.

Authorities said the heavy lift crane vessels from Singapore are expected to arrive by the first week of February.

Yesterday, a large salvage vessel of the US Navy, the USS Salvor arrived in the area to help in then extraction of the USS Guardian, which remains stuck on Tubbataha Reef for the eighth day.

On Thursday, US Navy Rear Adm. Thomas Carney, who is supervising the salvage operations, said USS Guardian will be lifted off the rocks and transferred to another ship or barge as the ship is now too badly damaged to be towed.

"It's got hull penetration in several places, and there is a significant amount of water inside the ship right now," said Carney, who also said that the distressed ship is hard aground about 30 meters from the edge of the reef.

Partial de-fuelling of the ship was also conducted Thursday.

Thomas said the US government and its military are "totally committed to working jointly with our Philippine counterparts to remove the ship as expeditiously as possible, making every possible effort to avoid or minimize further damage."

"We will work collaboratively with the Philippines to assess the damage and to take steps to address the environmental issues that have arisen from this incident," the top US diplomat in the Philippines declared.

Ambassador Thomas also expressed his gratitude to the Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Navy "for their close cooperation with us."

"We will continue our combined efforts to resolve this matter," he stated. "As the investigation of this matter proceeds, we hope to continue our close coordination with the Philippine government to understand precisely what happened so we can ensure there will be no recurrence."

On Thursday, January 17, the USS Guardian ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea, about 80 miles east-southeast of Palawan during a normal transit.

The ship had just completed a port call in Subic Bay, Zambales, and was en route to its next port of call when the grounding occurred.

No one was injured in the incident, and there have been no reports of leaking fuel or oil.

The extent of damage to the ship and the cause of the grounding are currently under investigation.

Meanwhile, Task Force Unit Guardian spokesman Lt. Cmdr. James Stockman reported that they are removing the Guardian's fuel as weather conditions allow, and as of Thursday, had removed approximately 70 percent of onboard fuel.

Stockman said there are still no traces of an oil slick in the area.

Additionally, he said they have deployed a marine biologist/coral reef expert to the site to advise the US Navy of environmental considerations during the salvage and recovery operation.

The marine biologist/coral reef expert, who is embarked on USS Mustin, has begun a survey in view of the grounding site, as well as of adjacent undisturbed reef structure to begin the assessment of damages and evaluate the health of the surrounding reef, but the full extent of the damage will not be able to be determined until we remove the ship.

"We are doing everything possible to minimize environmental damage while we recover the ship," said Stockman in a statement sent through email. "When the Guardian is safely recovered, the US government will continue to work with the Philippine government to assess the extent of the damage to the reef and the surrounding marine environment caused by the grounding."

He added that the guided missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), USNS Bowditch, USNS Salvor, Malaysian tug Vos Apollo and M/V Trabajador are all on station, with heavy-lift vessels SMIT Borneo and SMIT Cyclone en route.

Stockman added that they are also receiving security assistance from the Philippine Coast Guard and Navy vessels on station. The MSV C-Champion initially responded and has departed, he said.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • United States seeks access to Philippine bases as part of Asia pivot
    United States seeks access to Philippine bases as part of Asia pivot

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft, and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington's next phase in its Asia "pivot", deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia "pivot" has already seen U.S. Marines rotating through the …

  • China's island-building to loom large at SE Asia summit
    China's island-building to loom large at SE Asia summit

    China's creation of new island footholds in contested seas will hover over a Southeast Asian summit that has become an annual test of the region's nerve in standing up to its massive neighbour. The South China Sea hot potato drops this year into Malaysia's lap as the rotating chair of the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and host of Monday's meeting. ASEAN states Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the strategic South China Sea, but Beijing …

  • Philippines, China trade accusations over sea threats

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines accused China of aggressive maneuvers against its reconnaissance plane and fishermen in disputed seas where Beijing has stepped up construction of artificial islands, but China reiterated its claim on the strategic waterways. …

  • Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others
    Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others

    Indonesia has ordered preparations for the execution of 10 drug convicts, including Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, as the Philippine government filed yesterday a second appeal for judicial review of the case to save the maid from death by firing squad. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) of Indonesia released an official letter dated April 23, instructing prosecutors to prepare for the execution of 10 convicts, the Jakarta Post reported yesterday. The execution would be conducted after the …

  • Noy to visit Canada, Japan
    Noy to visit Canada, Japan

    President Aquino will embark on a state visit to Canada in May and Japan in June to meet with his counterparts and promote Philippine interests. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino accepted the invitation from Canadian Governor General David Johnston to make a state visit to Canada from May 7 to 9. Tied to this trip is the President’s one-day working visit to the United States to meet with potential investors and with the local Filipino community in Chicago, Valte …

  • Business groups back K to 12 program
    Business groups back K to 12 program

    The government’s K to 12 program adding two more years to basic education received support from various business groups yesterday. However, they urged relevant government agencies to deal with issues regarding the implementation of Republic Act 10533, the Enhanced Basic Education Act or K-12 Law. In a statement, business groups led by the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) said RA 10533 is a milestone piece of legislation that intends to bring the Philippines up to par with the rest of …

  • Happiest nations: Phl ranks 90th
    Happiest nations: Phl ranks 90th

    Switzerland is the happiest country in the world, while the Philippines placed 90th, according to a global ranking of happiness unveiled in New York on Thursday. Switzerland was followed closely by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada. The 2015 World Happiness Report is the third annual report seeking to quantify happiness as a means of influencing government policy. The United Nations published the first study in 2012. …

  • Asean leaders want binding sea code with China
    Asean leaders want binding sea code with China

    Southeast Asian leaders will seek to speed up plans for a binding code of conduct with China governing behavior in the disputed South China Sea at a summit next week, Malaysia’s foreign minister said Friday. Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said a massive flow of Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to neighboring countries will also be discussed at the two-day summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which starts Monday. Anifah said leaders are expected to raise concerns …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options