PHL probe of USS Guardian incident to continue amid relief of vessel’s crew - DFA

The Philippine government’s investigation on the grounding of the minesweeper USS Guardian off Tubbataha Reef will continue.

That, even as the US military announced it has relieved the ship’s officers and crew for failing to adhere to standard navigation procedures, a Foreign Affairs spokesman said Thursday.

“We take note of that report and we respect the decision of the relief of the officers and crew members by the US Navy. This is apart from our own independent investigation on the grounding of the vessel being conducted by the maritime casualty investigation team. Our independent investigation team is ongoing and we’ll come up with its own results,” spokesman Raul Hernandez told a press briefing.

Salvage work on the USS Guardian, which got stuck on the reef off Sulu Sea while on its way to another port call, was completed over the weekend.

The US warship’s damage to the reef, a United Nations-declared world heritage site, covered an area over 4,000 square meters, park officials said.

Washington has offered compensation to the Philippine government for the damage caused by the minesweeper on the reef, which has been pegged close to P100 million.

“We have an independent investigation which we are continuing and hopefully we will be able to finish this investigation as soon as possible,” Hernandez said.