The Navy has completed the removal of the mine sweeping ship caught on a reef in the Sulu Sea on Saturday, according to the U.S. 7th Fleet.
The 250-ton stern section of the former USS Guardian (MCM-5) was lifted off of the Tubbataha Reef on Saturday, clearing the way for a damage assessment of the reef by Philippine officials.
“As the hull has been removed, the team is now shifting their effort to collecting minor debris that remains on the reef. We also have a collaborative team from the U.S. and the Philippines beginning to assess the condition of the reef,” said Supervisor of Salvage, Capt. Mark Matthews in a 7th Fleet release.
The U.S. could face a fine of up to $2 million in damages caused by Guardian, which had been caught on the reef since mid-January, according to a Sunday report from the Associated Press.
“An initial estimate showed about 4,000 square meters (4,780 square yards) of coral reef was damaged by the ship grounding, according to Tubbataha park superintendent Angelique Songco. She said it was unlikely the estimate would change significantly,” reported the AP.
Guardian, decommissioned in early March, was based in Sasebo, Japan as part of the U.S. Navy’s forward deployed mine sweeping force. Bahrain-based USS Warrior (MCM-10) will transit via heavy lift ship. Warrior is expected to depart the Middle East on Saturday and arrive in Sasebo in late March.
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