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A United States Navy vessel remains stuck on the Tubbataha Reef, days after it ran aground on a protected marine sanctuary in the Philippines’ Sulu Sea.
As a result, members of the Philippine Senate have already raised questions regarding the presence of the USS Guardian, which was supposed to head to Indonesia from Subic Bay.
Senator Chiz Escudero, who heads the chamber’s environment and natural resources committee, said that the panel may launch a probe to look further into the incident.
Philippine Navy, Coast Guard assets on site
As US efforts to extricate the USS Guardian (MCM-5)off Tubbataha Reef intensify, the Philippine Navy (PN) on Sunday said three of its ships and one of the Coast Guard's is now at the site to provide assistance should the Americans ask for it.
Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Favic, acting PN spokesperson, said that Navy assets in the area include BRP Rizal (PS-74), BRP Mangyan (AS-71), BRP Ismael Lumibao (PG-383) and the Coast Guard's BRP Corregidor (AE-891).
He added that both the BRP Mangyan and BRP Corregidor arrived in the area late Saturday.
Both ships are equipped with anti-spill booms which can be used should an oil spill will occur.
But for the moment, no oil spill is taking place, the PN spokesperson said.
He said three US support vessels and tugboats are also present.
The US has yet to request assistance from the Philippine Navy.
Favic stressed that the crew of these ships are now studying the best way to re-float the USS Guardian with less damage to the environment.
The Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship had just completed a port call in Subic Bay and was en route to Indonesia and then on to Timor-Leste to participate in a training exercise when the grounding occurred Jan. 17.
Tubbataha Reef, approximately 80 miles east-southeast of Palawan Island, is one of the world's richest marine biodiversity zones, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.