A US Navy ship ran aground at Tubbataha Reef in Palawan early Thursday, authorities said.
The USS Guardian, an Avenger-class minesweeper, ran aground 2:25 a.m. while transiting the Sulu Sea, according to a statement at the US Navy 7th Fleet’s web site.
No one was reported injured in the incident, according to the statement.
Maj. Oliver Banaria, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 6th Civil Relations Group based in Palawan, confirmed the incident, saying it occurred some 98 nautical miles from Puerto Princesa City.
The incident occurred just a few days after the USS Guardian made a port call in Subic on Jan. 14, Banaria said.The military’s Western Command has already sent a Nomad plane and the patrol craft PG-383 to conduct reconnaissance at the site of the incident, he said.
“Nagpunta na dun sa area ‘yung mga assets natin para makita kung ano ‘yung assistance na puwede nating ibigay sa kanila (sailors aboard the USS Guardian),” Banaria said in a phone interview.
It was not immediately known what the US Navy vessel hit, but Banaria said corals are abundant in the area.
Tubbataha Reef, a 130,028-hectare “protected area,” is a popular diving spot for local and foreign tourists because of various species of corals and other marine life.
It is located at the heart of what is called the “Coral Triangle,” the global centre of marine biodiversity.
Former President Corazon Aquino declared Tubbataha Reef as a national marine park – the first of its kind in the country – in 1988.
Tubbataha Reef was included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage list in 1993. (John Roson)
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