The Navy has decided to cut the USS Guardian into pieces in order to remove it from the reef it is stuck on off of the Philippines.
After many attempts to remove the USS Guardian from the reef, the Navy decided cutting the ship up was the only way to safely remove the ship without causing further damage to the Tubbataha Reef, according the ABC News.
The decision means the ship will no longer exist as a Navy vessel and will be taken off the Navy’s ship roster.
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to threatened and endangered marine species, including fish, corals and sharks. The Guardian ran aground on January 17th. An investigation found the electronic charts the ship was using placed the reef 8 miles from its actual location.
In the days since, the Navy was unable to tow the ship off the reef as poor sea conditions complicated the salvage effort. Capt. Darryn James, spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, told ABC News that the Navy now plans to cut the ship into pieces to get it off the reef. Two heavy lift ship-borne cranes will arrive at the scene by Friday to begin to salvage the ship. The process is expected to take a month.
“The ship is badly damaged,” said James. According to James the team of naval architecture and salvage efforts working to free the minesweeper determined that “after a full review of all possible alternatives, our only viable option is to dismantle the damaged ship and remove it in sections.”
None of the 79 sailors aboard the ship were injured in the grounding. Last week Vice Adm. Scott Swift, the U.S. 7th Fleet commander, issued an apology to the Philippines for the incident.
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The ship’s wooden hull — covered in fiberglass — is punctured and parts of the ship have been flooded. As part of the salvage effort the 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel aboard the Guardian were transferred to a Malaysian tug contracted by the Navy. Other materials that might damage the reef have also been removed including : 671 gallons of lubricating oil; dry food stores; paints and solvents contained in storage lockers; and the crew’s personal effects left behind on the ship.