Salvage Crews Break Up US Ship in Philippines
Source: Gulf Times
February 27, 2013
Salvage teams have begun cutting up a US Navy ship stranded on a UN World Heritage-listed coral reef in the Philippines in a process that could take almost month, the coastguard said yesterday.
The smokestack, or funnel, of the minesweeper USS Guardian was lifted off on Tuesday while the mast was removed yesterday, marking a major step in the operation, said coastguard spokeswoman Lieutenant Greanata Jude. The 68-metre vessel ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef in a remote part of the Sulu Sea on January 17 and strong winds and heavy seas have hampered the operation to dismantle it. The US has repeatedly apologised for the incident, which it has blamed on faulty maps, but the incident has fuelled anger in the Philippines, a former American colony and important US ally in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Most of the equipment on top of the deck has already been transferred to a barge but they have yet to remove the large equipment inside the ship,” Jude said.
The dismantling of the ship has been repeatedly delayed by bad weather, but clear skies are now forecast to last over the next few days, she added.
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