USS Guardian mcm-5 aground phillippines tubbahata reef

Jan. 20, 2013 by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command (AFP-WESCOM)

By Cris Larano

MANILA–The Philippines will seek remuneration from the U.S. for the damages sustained by the Tubbataha Reef after a U.S. Navy minesweeper ran aground last week in the World Heritage-listed coral reef.

“It’s incumbent upon our government to file for such claim,” Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya said, adding that overseeing efforts to remove the ship from the reef will be the priority.

He said at a news briefing at the presidential palace that senior U.S. Navy officers have arrived in the country to handle the salvage operations, but their plans need to be vetted by the Philippine government first.

He said the USS Guardian is now “heavily grounded” on the south atoll of Tubbataha Reef, which minimizes the chances of more damage to the marine park.

Mr. Abaya said the Philippine Coast Guard, an agency under his office, will lead the effort to remove the ship and in investigating why the ship strayed into Tubbataha. He said an oil spill boom has been laid out and the ship defueled to contain any potential oil spill.

The U.S. Navy said in a statement issued from Japan over the weekend that it is undertaking an investigation to determine the exact cause of the grounding. Last Friday, the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency provided the Navy preliminary findings of a review on Digital Nautical Charts that contain inaccurate navigation data and may have been a factor in the grounding.

When the Guardian is safely recovered, the U.S. Navy said it will continue to work with the Philippines to assess the extent of the damage to the reef and the surrounding marine environment caused by the grounding.

(c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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  • Alex

    The can just deduct it form the hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid they get from us every year…

    • http://maritimeaccident.org Bob Couttie

      The aid is to protect and promote US interests. Such defense aid as there is is only in the firm of equipment unwanted by the US military.
      Are you seriously suggesting that the US should abrogate its obligations both under international law and its treaty?

    • http://maritimeaccident.org Bob Couttie

      The US Navy doesn’t contribute much to the bars these days, and most of today’s girls weren’t even born when the US navy left.

    • http://maritimeaccident.org Bob Couttie

      The rule of thumb is a fine of $300 per square metre. To date some 1000 square metres has been damaged.

      • http://maritimeaccident.org Bob Couttie

        Apart from that, there is a fine for navigating in a restricted area – navigation through the reef without permission which is required under Philippine law – and there are a couple of other alleged legal breaches.

  • http://maritimeaccident.org Bob Couttie

    Some 15,000 litres of fuel have been offloaded. Cranes are expected to arrive today.

  • wendell

    To Mr Couttie, you gave a proper diplomatic approach to this unwanted situation. Thanks

    • http://maritimeaccident.org Bob Couttie

      Until December last year I’d lived in the Philippines, actually Olongapo, for nearly 30 years so I’m familiar with the ground.

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