The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013, 9:33 p.m.

Crew leaves U.S. warship aground in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — All 79 officers and crew of a U.S. Navy minesweeper stuck on a coral reef in the central Philippines have left the ship two days after efforts to free the vessel failed, the Navy said Saturday.
The ship ran aground Thursday while in transit through the Tubbataha National Marine Park, a coral sanctuary in the Sulu Sea, 400 miles southwest of Manila. There were no injuries or oil leaks, and Philippine authorities were trying to evaluate damage to the protected coral reef, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet earlier on Friday said 72 of the crew of the USS Guardian were transferred for safety reasons to a military support vessel and a naval survey ship. The Navy said in a statement hours later that all 79 crew members, including the commanding and the executive officers, had left the stricken ship.
The statement quoted 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Scott Swift as saying other ships "remain on scene and essential Guardian sailors will continue conducting survey operations onboard the ship as needed until she is recovered."
He said several support vessels have arrived at the area and "all steps are being taken to minimize environmental effects while ensuring the crew's continued safety."
The World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines said that according to an initial visual inspection, the 74-yard-long, 1,300-ton Guardian damaged at least 10 yards of the reef. Aerial photographs provided by the Philippine military showed the ship's bow sitting atop corals in shallow turquoise waters. The stern was floating in the deep blue waters. The Navy said the cause of the grounding, which took place about 2 a.m. Thursday, was under investigation.
Angelique Songco, head of the government's Protected Area Management Board, said it was unclear how much of the reef was damaged. She said the government imposes a fine of about $300 per square yard of damaged coral.
In 2005, the environmental group Greenpeace was fined almost $7,000 after its flagship struck a reef in the same area.
Songco said that park rangers were not allowed to board the ship for inspection and were told to contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
Philippine military spokesman Maj. Oliver Banaria said the U.S. Navy did not request assistance from the Philippines.
U.S. Navy ships have stepped up visits to Philippine ports for refueling, rest and recreation, plus joint military exercises as a result of a redeployment of U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Philippines, a U.S. defense treaty ally, has been entangled in a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

loading...

HeraldNet highlights

An untapped market
An untapped market: Sound to Summit is first brewery taproom in Snohomish
Remembering Jerry
Remembering Jerry: EvCC groundskeeper Gerald Olmstead was always happy
Saving the trees
Saving the trees: Learn from arborist how to keep your trees healthy
So far, little snow
So far, little snow: But in 1871, it was a different story
SnoCoSocial