US minesweepers engines removed as dismantling continuesBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The USS Guardian dismantling operation continued on Thursday after the grounded US Navy minesweeper’s four engines were removed and transferred to a barge by the lead crane ship Jascon 25, the Philippine Coast Guard said.
Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo, chief of the Coast Guard’s public affairs office, said the US Navy-contracted salvage team had “successfully removed one of the Guardian’s two diesel generators, as well as the two cranes at its fantail.”
In a text message to the Inquirer, he also disclosed that “the team would continue removing today the pipeline shaft and other materials in the ship’s engine room and the vessel’s gas turbine generator.”
Noting “wind speeds of 11 to 15 knots and swells of up to 1.2 meters” in the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea, Balilo said “the weather has been very good and favorable to continue the ship dismantling operation.”
Early this week, the Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, head of Task Force Tubbataha and commander of the Coast Guard’s Palawan district, said the salvage team had dismantled about 50 percent of the Guardian.
The salvage team is “expecting calm weather in the next three to four days so work will continue on the USS Guardian,” he added.
Aside from the PCG, the task force includes the Philippine Navy, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Tubbataha Reef Foundation and local government units in the island-province of Palawan.
The 68-meter USS Guardian ran aground on the reef on Jan. 17. Salvage work began on February 22 but was suspended at least four times due to bad weather.