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USS Guardian salvage ships head for Puerto Princesa due to bad weather

February 17, 2013 7:20pm

Salvage operations for the minesweeper ship USS Guardian that ran aground at the World Heritage site Tubbataha Reef on Jan. 17 have been delayed again due to bad weather even with the arrival of another crane ship Saturday night.

The JASCON 25 arrived in the Palawan area at 10 p.m. Saturday, according to a report by radio dzBB's Mao dela Cruz Sunday.

Last week, Coast Guard officials said they hoped the operation to dismantle the ship would commence upon arrival of JASCON 25, which is equipped with dynamic positioning system, meaning it can hold its position without anchoring.

An earlier dzBB report cited the US Navy's revised plans indicating that JASCON 25 has an advantage over the SMIT Borneo, which arrived in the Philippines earlier this month, in that it is more stable and less prone to anchoring problems.

The SMIT Borneo had problems starting salvage work since it could not drop anchor properly. The JASCON 25 is being eyed as the main vessel for the salvage, with SMIT Borneo only as a support ship.

Evangelista said JASCON 25 and SMIT Borneo have departed for Puerto Princesa Bay due to inclement weather at Tubbataha Reef.

He said they needed to transfer equipment and personnel from SMIT Borneo to JASCON 25, but were unable to do so due to bad weather.

“It may take some time if they wait for conditions to calm down so they decided to proceed to Puerto Princesa and do the transfer there," he said. "The wind is strong and the sea is rough. It's very unsafe to transfer and may cause accident."

After the transfer, Evangelista said, the two crane ships will return to Tubbataha Reef and commence the salvage operations. He did not say exactly when the ships are expected to return to Tubbataha. Amanda Fernandez/BM, GMA News
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