MANILA, Philippines – Damage on Tubbataha Reef caused by the US Navy minesweeper that ran aground in Sulu Sea has been estimated at 1,000 square meters based on initial assessment, the Philippine Coast Guard said Wednesday.
“Nagkaroon na ng initial assessment tapos lumabas dun sa na report sa Task Force Tubbataha, kung san more or less 1,000 square meters (An initial assessment was made and the report of Task Force Tubbataha shows that the damage was more or less 1,000 square meters,” PCG spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armando Balilo told reporters in a phone interview.
The 68-meter USS Guardian had been stuck in Tubbataha Reef, a Unesco World Heritage Site, since January 17.
Balilo did not elaborate the extent of the damage further.
The damage was estimated by divers who went underwater and an assessment is being made by the US Navy, PCG and Philippine Navy.
Balilo said the US Navy has proposed three options to extricate the stricken vessel out of the reef: lifting by crane, towing and dismemberment.
Although no word has been said so far on when and how would the ship be removed out of the reef, Balilo said the next step would be to lighten up the vessel.