USS Guardian's funnel section removed as salvage operations resume-A A +A
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
MANILA -- The funnel section of the stranded USS Guardian has been removed as the salvaging operations for the American navy ship that ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef continues, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Wednesday.
Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, PCG Palawan district commander and Task Force Tubbataha chief, said ongoing operations include the clearing of equipment below weather deck and the removal of sonar winch at the bow.
The PCG also said the salvaging team is already starting to prepare for level-2 section lifting.
But before proceeding to that level, Evangelista said the salvaging team will first lift the mast section and relocate the reference beacons of Jascon-25, a crane ship used for the lifting operations.
He added that recovered items from the USS Guardian will also have to be transferred to M/Tug Archon Tide.
Weather conditions had previously suspended the salvaging operations for the USS Guardian, which ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef last January 17 while transiting the Sulu Sea. The salvage plan includes the use of floating cranes to methodically remove the stranded minesweeper.
Over the weekend, the 7th fleet of the US Navy said in its website that the Jascon-25 is able to position its crane near the stranded vessel "without requiring traditional mooring equipment that could damage the reef."
"The Jascon 25's dynamic positioning system is allowing us to begin the salvage effort in earnest. We are turning to," Captain Mark Matthews, US Navy Supervisor of Salvage, said on the 7th fleet's website.
The US Navy added that salvage teams have begun transferring mine countermeasure equipment including the sixteen ton cable reel, onboard repair parts, and refrigerated stores that were not previously transferred using small boats.
Meanwhile, Evangelista of the PCG assured the public that the salvaging team continues the clearing of loose materials in the USS Guardian to prevent it from further damaging the reef, which is a protected marine biodiversity area and a Unesco World Heritage site.
The 7th Fleet of the US Navy also said the salvage plan "continues to emphasize safety and protection of the environment" to protect personnel and the reef.
Aside from the Jascon-25, other vessels in the salvaging site include the SMIT Borneo crane barge, the USNS Salvor, USNS Safeguard, USNS Wally Schirra, M/Tug Archon Tide, M/Tug Intrepid, M/Tug Trabajador-1 and Barge S-7000 of the Malayan Towage and PCG vessel BRP-Pampanga. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)