The salvage teams hired by the U.S Navy may not meet the March 23 deadline to remove the USS Guardian from the Tubbataha Reef.
Citing a report from Task Force Tubbataha, Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo said today they are anticipating that the salvage work may extend beyond the target date of completion.
“It's hard to say it would be completed on the 23rd (of March). The cutting is in the final phase. The ship's stability is something to consider and the safety of workers,” Balilo said in an interview.
Within the week, salvors will remove the hull following the completion of the lifting and transfer of the U.S Navy minesweeper's main and auxiliary engines.
Balilo said preparations are ongoing for the cutting of the ship’s lower deck and bulkhead section.
"They are removing the debris and loose materials from the hull. They are also identifying the strong points of the hull where it can easily be lifted," he said.
While salvage work continues, Balilo said the PCG could not discount the possible extension of the March 23 deadline for the removal of the USS Guardian from the coral reefs.
“We have no information yet whether or not they will work during the holy week. That is something to be discussed by Task Force Tubbataha,” he said.
The 68-meter U.S Navy minesweeper ran aground on the reef on Jan. 17. Salvage work began late last month but was hampered by the inclement weather.
Nonetheless, the ship’s four main engines and its auxiliary engines, as well as its diesel generators, fantail cranes, must, funnel and bridge deck section, were successfully removed by crane ship Jascon 25 and transferred to a barge.