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US Navy extends deadline of USS Guardian salvage operations to April

March 24, 2013 4:05pm

The US Navy has decided to extend its self-imposed deadline to complete salvaging operations on the American minesweeper that ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef last January, a Philippine maritime officials said Sunday.

Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, commander of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Palawan, said the US Navy is now eyeing to finish extricating the USS Guardian from the reef by the second week of April.

“They have been submitting updates and new timelines based on the work already done. It [The salvage operations] is very dynamic. They come up with revisions based on the progress of the work. They've been updating us,” Evangelista said Sunday.

The US Navy's original deadline for the USS Guardian's salvaging operations elapsed on Saturday. Efforts to remove the sea vessel from the marine protected area were postponed several times due to bad weather and sea conditions.

The ship has been stuck at the Tubbataha Reef for more than three months now, and has caused damage to about 4,000 square meters of corals in the area.

PCG spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo, for his part, said the US Navy's failure to meet its own deadline was “expected.”

“It is due to weather. The arrival of Jascon 25 [the main crane ship used to extract the ship] was delayed... There were even instances when the sea was rough even when there were no weather disturbances,” Balilo said.

President Benigno Aquino III earlier vowed that the Philippines will hold the US accountable for violations of laws committed by the crew of the USS Guardian. The US Navy has already apologized for the grounding of its ship on Philippine territory. Andreo Calonzo/BM, GMA News
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