Fuel removed from grounded US navy ship-A A +A
Saturday, January 26, 2013
A SALVAGE team has removed all diesel fuel from the tanks of the USS Guardian which ran aground last week on the Tubbataha reef in Sulu Sea, the American Navy said.
The US 7th Fleet said approximately 15,000 gallons of fuel was safely transferred to the contracted Malaysian tug Vos Apollo during controlled defueling operations over the past two days.
No fuel has leaked since the grounding of the 68-meter USS Guardian, which is an avenger-class mine counter-measure vessel.
“One of our priorities was to get the fuel out of the ship in order to minimize environmental damage,” Rear Admiral Tom Carney, on-scene commander of the salvage operation, said in a statement.
The US Navy is working closely with the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard, which earlier formed the Task Force Tubbataha for the salvage operation of the stranded American ship.
“They [US Navy, Philippine Navy and salvage company from Singapore] continued to secure top side of the ship, removed all small items and secured other items that were left behind,” Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant, said in his report.
The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) said the Task Force Tubbataha is finalizing the salvage plan of the USS Guardian. Part of the said plan is to use a crane with high lifting capacity for the vertical removal of the stranded ship instead of just dragging it to avoid incurring more damage to the reef.
Two heavy lift ship-borne cranes were contracted to support the salvage operations and are due to arrive at the scene around February 1.
Carney admitted the difficulty in the salvage operation due to the nature of the ship and of the changing environment.
Earlier, Isorena of the PCG said there was a short delay in the salvage operation due to erratic weather conditions, adding that the USS Guardian is too badly damaged.
The ship's wooden hull, which is covered in fiberglass similar to surfboards, was punctured while several of its areas were flooded, according to the US 7th Fleet.
However, Carney stated that his top priorities are to ensure the safety of those involved in the salvage operations while carefully protecting the Tubbataha reef.
Earlier, the Inspection Team assessed that approximately 1,000 square meters of corals were severely damaged due to the incident, according to the PCG.
According to the US Navy, the vessel ran aground on Tubbataha Reef at 2:25 a.m. in January 17. The USS Guardian, which departed Olongapo City en route to Indonesia, was transiting the Sulu Sea when the grounding occurred.
The US Navy earlier said they were provided by the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency with the preliminary findings of a review on Digital Nautical Charts that contain "inaccurate navigation data," which may have been a factor in the grounding of the Guardian. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)