'No oil, chemical spill from stuck US Navy ship'-A A +A
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
APPROXIMATELY 1,000 square meters of the Tubbatah Reefs Natural Park in Sulu Sea was damaged after a United States Navy ship ran aground on the reef on January 18, while plans for its removal are still being studied, said Transportation and Communication Undersecretary Eduardo Oban Wednesday noon.
In a press conference, Oban said the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy made an underwater survey as to the extent of the damage brought by the grounded US Navy minesweeper USS Guardian.
He said that based on the survey there was evident damage on the coral reef. He, however, said that no chemical and oil spill was reported.
The United States Navy also conducted separate assessment to the damage of the US Navy ship, he said. All of the ship’s crew members were also transferred to two nearby vessels for safety purposes.
Oban also said that as of the moment, their main target is to immediately remove the ship from the area to prevent further damage to the reef.
Defueling and removing chemicals from the ship is their first step.
The main damage to the vessel was its propeller and rudder.
The Philippine Government and the US Navy are still studying how to extricate the ship as existing sea and weather conditions impact the salvage operations.
The US Navy, which is operating the ship supposedly bound for Indonesia after a port call in Subic, is already mapping out plans how to get the 68-meter vessel out of the reef. It had also apologized for the incident, blaming a faulty navigation system that allegedly misplaced the reef on its map.
On Monday, Transportations and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said that under the law, the Philippine government could claim for the damages incurred when the USS Guardian ran aground.
Senator Loren Legrada also filed a resolution on Monday seeking to probe the grounding of the US ship and know the extent of its damage. (Sunnex/VBL)