A delicate and drastic salvage operation is underway to remove a grounded American warship from a protected coral reef near the Philippine coast. USS Guardian became firmly beached on 17 January after the minehunter sailed from a routine visit to the former US base at Subic Bay. The 1,400-tonne vessel was subsequently flooded as wave motion punctured several holes in her wooden hull leaving her unseaworthy. All 79 crew were taken off as salvage teams arrived to remove 56,000 litres of fuel to reduce the risk of pollution to the UNECSO World Heritage site.
It was later decided that the only viable salvage option, to minimise further damage to the coral reef, was to dismantle the ship and remove it in sections. An investigation is under way as to why the ship was in the wrong area. The US Navy revealed the digital navigational chart in use by Guardian misplaced the correct location of the reef by about eight nautical miles.