The U.S. government has offered a range of assistance to the Philippines as compensation for the grounding of the USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef. According to a report in the Manila Standard Today, that assistance includes a P4.1 million peso ($98,000) grant to a local Philippine university for coral restoration research. The U.S. government has also floated proposals for installing radar and communications equipment to better assist park rangers at the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and the Philippine Coast Guard to help ships navigate the restricted waters to avoid collisions and to monitor and help apprehend marine poachers in the park.
A scientific team comprised of representatives with the US Agency for International Development and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency is expected to work with Philippine-based coral reef conservation experts on how best to rehabilitate the damage caused by the USS Guardian.
Immediately after the Jan. 17 grounding on the reef, the estimated damage was pegged at around 11,000 square feet of reef. The estimate has since been revised to 43,000 square feet, as the ship continues to damage the reef as it awaits dismantling.
The USS Guardian, a U.S. Navy minesweeper struck a reef in the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park on Jan. 17, apparently enroute to Indonesia. To prevent any further damage to the reef, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ship is in the process of being dismantled. The U.S. government is still trying to determine why the ship was in the park in the first place, and why communications to the ship’s command that it was in the park were ignored.