The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - A salvage team from the United States Navy has drained an approximately 15,000 gallons (about 60,000 liters) of diesel fuel from the USS Guardian, the minesweeper stuck at Tubbataha Reef.
A statement from the US embassy said the salvage team has completed defueling of the ship on January 25. The fuel was transferred to the US-contracted Malaysian tugboat, Vos Apollo.
Meanwhile, authorities are still waiting for the arrival of two heavy lift ship-borne cranes due to arrive on February 1. The cranes will lift the USS Guardian from the reef and bring it to the nearest shipyard.
On the other hand, US Navy ship salvage and maritime architecture experts continue to reinforce the ship's structure including reinforcing its hull with Kevlar lines to reduce the strain on the ship as it is continuously battered by waves.
"The US Navy in the meantime, continues to remove material from the ship, to assess and manage structural issues and to prepare the Guardian to be safely removed, all the while seeking to protect the natural environment of Tubbataha Reef," the US embassy said.
It has been a little over a week since the ship went aground at Tubbataha Reef on January 17 and the US has yet to state why and how the ship went aground the protected marine sanctuary.
"The US Navy is undertaking an extensive investigation to assess the circumstances and facts surrounding the USS Guardian accident. The ship had just completed a port call in Subic Bay and was transiting directly through the Sulu Sea en route to its next port of call in Indonesia when the grounding occurred. All relevant factors will be looked at during the course of the investigation, and the proximate cause of the incident will be made at a later date," the US embassy said.
Meanwhile, 69 crew members of the USS Guardian were transferred to USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) on January 22 and will return to Sasebo, Japan today.
Only the ship's commanding officer and technical experts remain at Tubbataha Reef to assist in salvage operations.