At least 1,000 square meters of the Tubbataha Reef in Palawan was damaged because of the grounding of the US Navy ship USS Guardian, the Coast Guard said.

“Initially, 1,000 square meters of the reef was damaged,” Coast Guard spokesman Cmdr. Armand Balilo said, citing results of an investigation by Joint Task Force Tubbataha.

The task force, led by Department of Transportation and Communications Usec. Eduardo Oban, is still conducting “further assessments,” Balilo said.

Members of the task force include the Coast Guard, AFP Western Command (Westcom), Philippine Navy, Tubbataha Management Office, and local government units.

A Nomad plane of the Air Force conducted another reconnaissance flight over Tubbataha on Wednesday morning, according to Westcom.

A rubber boat, apparently from the US, was seen approaching the USS Guardian around 8 a.m., a Westcom official said.

The USS Guardian, a minesweeper, ran aground at the reef’s “South Atoll” on Jan. 17, three days after making a port call in Subic Bay, Zambales. (John Roson)

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