Compensation expected soon for Philippine reef damage from grounded ship
By MATT BURKE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 18, 2014
The Philippines is expected to get a U.S. government payout soon to compensate for damage caused when a Navy minesweeper ran aground on a protected reef over a year ago.
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg told reporters Monday that the U.S. government was in the final stages of reviewing a Foreign Claims Act compensation request that was received June 13. He said he expected an announcement “very soon.”
“The United States deeply regrets this incident and the damage caused to the reef,” embassy spokeswoman Anna Richey wrote in a statement to Stars and Stripes. “We are continuing to work closely with the government of the Philippines to resolve the issue of compensation for damage to the reef.”
No one was injured when the USS Guardian ran aground on Tubbataha Reef around 2:25 a.m. on Jan. 17, 2013, while transiting the Sulu Sea after a port visit in Subic Bay. The crew of 79 was removed the next day during a harrowing exit from the ship, which took on water and was later cut up and removed in pieces. The ship’s leadership was later relieved of duty.
Philippine media outlets are reporting that more than 2,300 square meters of coral reef were damaged after the ship became lodged on the World Heritage Site and slid around for weeks. The size of the payment has been estimated at upwards of $1.4 million.