US to lift stuck vessel from Tubbataha Reef

US Navy officials have decided on Thursday to lift one of their minesweepers that have ran aground and stuck on Tubbataha reef, a world heritage site located in the middle of Sulu Sea.

USS Guardian, an Avenger-class minesweeper, has ran aground and stuck in the reef since January 17, which US Navy officials has blamed on a faulty and outdated digital nautical chart (DNC) on board the minesweeper.

The decision to lift USS Guardian was announced by US Rear Admiral Thomas Carey, the head of an assessment team sent by the US Navy to conduct an ocular and assessed the damage brought by the grounding.

The US Navy has already contracted Smith Towing, a Singapore based salvaging firm to lift the stuck ship to a barge and bring it back to a shipyard for repairs, said Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balillo, spokesman for the Philippine Coast Guard.

“If weather permits, the de-fuelling of the ship and removing of equipment on board will continue today,” Balillo said.

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