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USS Guardian salvage op fails to push through due to bad weather, huge waves

Operations to disassemble the USS Guardian—the American Navy minesweeper stuck at the Tubbataha Reef in Palawan—failed to push through once more on Sunday due to bad weather condition and huge waves at sea, a local official of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said. Commodore Efren Evangelista, PCG district commander in Palawan, said authorities failed to start salvage operations on the grounded warship due because huge waves of up to two meters were pounding the sea vessel. "Since this morning, salvage operation was unable to commence due to unfavourable weather and sea condition… Although there has been numerous attempts to board the USS Guardian, such attempts have been futile," Evangelista said. On Saturday, the crane ship JASCON 25 was already prepositioned near the crippled USS Guardian. Reference beacons have already been put in place to help stabilize the position of the grounded ship. The USS Guardian has been grounded at the marine protected area for more than a month now after it ran aground on the reef in the Sulu Sea on its way to Indonesia supposedly due to strong currents. The Tubbataha Reef’s management said damage caused by the grounding has already reached over 4,000 square meters. The US Navy has already apologized for the incident. Evangelista likewise said that the USS Guardian salvage operations may resume within the week. “Today's operation will have to be put on hold as of the moment but making sure that as soon as the weather eases up, salvage operation will continue as planned,” he added. American authorities are targeting to complete the removal of the ship by March 23. — BM, GMA News