The Philippine Coast Guard revealed that the extent of damage on Tubbataha Reef caused by a US Navy minesweeper could only be determined when the salvaging operations on the ship are completed and the vessel is removed from the area.
PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said they are not discounting the possibility that the damage on the coral reefs maybe more than the Task Force’s initial assessment of 1,000 square meters
The 68-meter USS Guardian has been stuck in Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since January 17 after it ran aground in the area.
The US Navy (USN) is still waiting for the arrival of two crane ships from Singapore that will be used for salvaging operations. The USN is said to be looking at another option that will involve dismantling or breaking up the ship in place.
Rear Admiral Thomas Carney, the on-scene commander of the salvage operations, said USN Naval architects and salvage engineers are working together to develop salvage plans. He added that the option to tow the ship off the reef is not possible since the ship is already badly damaged.