The United States Navy on Monday said it will start the salvaging of the USS Guardian on February 1 after it has completed the “defueling” of the minesweeper that ran aground at the Tubbataha Reef two weeks ago.
In a statement, the US Navy said two heavy, lift ship-borne cranes will help extricate the USS Guardian from the reef, which was declared as a World Heritage site and a protected area.
It added that the Guardian’s commanding officer and technical experts from among its crew remained on-scene near the reef to work with the recovery team, in coordination with the Coast Guard, the Philippine Navy and local environmental agencies.
“A US Navy-led salvage team has removed the bulk of fuel oil and materials that could pose environmental risks, such as paint, solvents, and lubricants from mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian, which ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef January 17,” the US Navy said in a statement.
It added that “no fuel has leaked since the grounding, and all of the ship’s approximately 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel was safely transferred to the U.S.-contracted Malaysian tug-boat, the Vos Apollo during controlled defueling operations completed on Jan. 25.”
The same amount of fuel has been pumped back into the ship’s tanks to prevent it from sinking