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Options to recover USS Guardian (MCM-5)

The Philippine Coast Guard Wednesday said the US Navy is looking at three options to recover the USS Guardian (MCM-5), still grounded at Tubbataha Reef at the Sulu Sea.

Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson said options being look into, in recovering the USS Guardian, include lifting (by heavy duty cranes and placing into a massive barge), towing, and dismantling on site.

But he said the decision to exercise this depends on the US Navy, the owners and operator of the stricken vessel.

Citing weather conditions there, caretakers of Tubbataha Reef are not keen on imposing a timetable for the removal of the grounded US minesweeper from the area.

Angelique Songco, Tubbataha Management Office supervisor, said Wednesday they do not want to endanger the lives of crewmen tasked to get the vessel out of the site.

The USS Guardian ran aground at Tubbataha Reef last Jan. 17 amid bad weather conditions.

However, Songco noted that as of Wednesday morning, the weather condition in the Tubbataha area appeared to be better than last Jan. 17, when the USS Guardian ran aground.

Meanwhile, Songco said her office will serve the US Navy with a formal notice listing violations of Philippine law.

She said her office is not so keen on getting the Navy to explain its actions as to have it pay the penalties for its violation.

Songco said the fine is not so much about the money but making sure the Philippine government can enforce its laws.

In a statement, the Tubbataha Reefs Management Office said it will ask the US Navy to “take responsibility, and immediately pay the fines that can be estimated at this time.”

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