Navy Ship Removal from Philippine Reef Proves Damaging

The USS Guardian has finally been removed from a protected coral reef in the South Western Philippines. The last large portion of the U.S. Navy minesweeper was removed on Saturday as a crane lifted the 250-ton stern of the USS Guardian. The USS Guardian has been stuck on the Philippines Reef since January 17th.

The USS Guardian was reportedly on its way to Indonesia when the incident occurred. After a refueling break in Subic Bay of Manila, USS Guardian strayed more than three miles into an off-limits area located offshore just before it hit the coral reef.

The damage that the USS Guardian caused to the protected coral reef is still under examination as Naval officials stated. The final assessment of damage will be determined this week by a team of American and Filipino experts. A fine will be paid by Washington to heal these costly wounds and repair relationships with American allies of Asia.

The Philippine reef that was damaged is located about 400 miles southwest of Manila. As a World Heritage site of UNESCO, the reef is protected as part of the Tubbataha National Marine Park in the Sulu Sea. The initial damage was estimated to cover about 4,000 square meters of the coral reef and, according to Tubbataha Park’s superintendent Angelique Songco, the estimate should be fairly accurate.

Songco stated that the fine would be roughly $600 per square meter that would add up to a $2 million fine for the United States. The fine would be given to a fund to help the reef rehabilitate its currently damaged areas.

Although the Philippine government has not agreed to terms with the U.S. government, the Philippine Secretary indirectly responded to questions concerning the reef: “There must be accountability and we will enforce our existing laws.” The fines and policies that have been in place will take precedence in this situation.

The U.S. and Navy Ambassador of Manila, Harry K. Thomas, has apologized for this accidental situation and continually promises to cooperate with damages and relationships. USS Guardian’s mangled parts will be taken to a Navy facility located in Sasebo, Japan, where the scraps will be separated into reusable materials and scrap metal.