Tubbataha Reef – US are ready to disassemble wrecked minesweeper
As announced on February 11, the pipe-lay crane ship JASCON 25 has arrived at Tubbataha Reef. The JASCON 25, a dynamic positioning crane, does not need to anchor, so it is expected to be able to operate where the other crane, SMIT Borneo, could not. It also has a higher lifting capacity, needed to remove some sections of USS Guardian.
Marine salvage is a dynamic operation and operational plans will need to be adjusted as circumstances change. The current plan is to remove first the topside equipment, followed by masts, funnel and other accessible equipment and portions of the ship.
Next, once loose material has been removed, the wreckers expect to begin removing the ship’s superstructure – the part of the ship above the main deck. Sections will be cut free and lifted with the Jascon crane, again with consideration of protecting the marine environment.
Once the superstructure is removed, heavy machinery and equipment will be removed from inside the ship.
When the hull will be mostly empty, the wreckers expect to begin to cut it into sections that can be secured and lifted. Current estimate is that they will remove the hull in three sections. The bow and stern will be removed as intact pieces; however, the middle section will need to be removed in a piecemeal fashion as the structure lacks the strength to lift intact.
“Throughout the operation the salvage experts will alter procedures as necessary to protect personnel and the Tubbataha Reef ecosystem,” a USN spokesman stated.