Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
U.S. Navy ship removed from reef
MANILA, Philippines -- Workers in the southwestern Philippines have removed the last major part of a U.S. Navy minesweeper from a protected coral reef where it ran aground in January, and the damage will be assessed to determine the fine Washington will pay, officials said Sunday.
A crane lifted the 250-ton stern of the dismantled USS Guardian on Saturday from the reef, where it accidentally got stuck Jan. 17, officials said. The reef, designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural arm, is located in the Tubbataha National Marine Park in the Sulu Sea, about 400 miles southwest of Manila.
The doomed ship's parts will be transported to a Navy facility in Sasebo, Japan, to determine which ones can be reused and which will be junked, Philippine coast guard Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista said. The wooden- and fiberglass-hull ship cost $277 million when it was commissioned in 1989.
An initial estimate showed about 4,780 square yards of coral reef were damaged by the ship grounding, according to Tubbataha park superintendent Angelique Songco.
The 244-foot-long Guardian was en route to Indonesia after making a rest and refueling stop in Subic Bay, a former American naval base west of Manila, when it ran aground before dawn Jan. 17. It strayed more than 3 miles into an offshore area off-limits to navigation before hitting the reef, Songco said.