Bigger crane ship due in Tubbataha on Saturday

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09:17 PM February 15th, 2013

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February 15th, 2013 09:17 PM

The USS Guardian, a US Navy minesweeper, is still stuck after running aground Tubbataha Reefs, a Unesco World Heritage Site in Sulu Sea, in this Jan. 17 photo released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–The second, bigger crane ship that would help remove portions of the USS Guardian, which remains stuck in Tubbataha Reef in Palawan, is expected to arrive at the site on Saturday, according to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

PCG Palawan District commander Commodore Enrico Evangelista said MT Jascon 25 would proceed directly to Tubbataha Reef to commence with the salvaging operations for the USS Guardian.

The salvage operation to remove the USS Guardian from the Tubbataha Reef was put on hold Sunday because of turbulent sea conditions, which prevented the giant crane ship SMIT Borneo from anchoring close to the moribund US minesweeper.

The 14,829-gross-ton and 118-meter-long MT Jascon 25 has a dynamic positioning system that does not require anchors to keep it stable, according to Evangelista.

He added that MT Jascon 25 met some delays in its arrival because of the headwind or the wind blew directly in front of the ship’s direction, thus opposing its forward movement.

But despite the rush to finish the salvaging operations, Evangelista said the crane ship would not be exempted from undergoing the routine check.

“It would still go through the procedure of Customs, Immigration and Quarantine inspection, which will be done at the site on Feb. 17,” he said, adding that the CIQ inspectors would be airlifted by a helicopter to reach the MT Jascon 25 at the coral reef.

Apart from the two crane ships, the United States earlier hired the services of salvaging ships MT Trabajador 1 of Malayan Towage and Salvaging Corporation and the Vos Apollo of a Malaysian company based in Singapore. The US Navy’s USNS Salvor and the PCG’s BRP Romblon are also at the site.

It has been estimated that the grounding incident damaged 4,000 square meters of the coral reef. The marine sanctuary is a United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage Site.

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