Philippines officials are estimating the remains of the former USS Guardian (MCM-5) will be clear of the Tubbataha Reef by next week, according to a Wednesday statement from the Tubbataha Management Office.
“The bow section and Auxiliary Machinery Room of the grounded vessel were successfully removed on March 26 and 27, respectively. After almost two months of operations, the salvage work on the USS Guardian is now in its final stage,” read the statement.
The office expects, if current calm weather holds, the operation to remove the mine sweeper grounded in January will be completed by April 1.
Philippine Coast Guard estimates the removal of the hull will take about six days, following last week’s removal of the ship’s four Iso Fraschini diesel engines.
Tubbataha Management Office met Tuesday to determine the method it will use to evaluate the reef damage.
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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Loss of Guardian brings the Navy down to 13 mine countermeasure (MCM) ships. The Avenger-class ships, which entered the Fleet in 1987, are among the oldest in the service’s inventory and will be replaced by the MCM mission package of the Littoral Combat Ship.