US pays Philippines compensation for damage to Tubbataha Reef
The Philippine Government has received $1.97m compensation from the US for damage caused by a US Navy Avenger-class mine counter-measures ship to a protected reef.
In January 2013, the USS Guardian (MCM-5) minesweeper vessel ran aground on the UN-protected Tubbataha Reef.
BBC News reported that the incident caused damage to more than 2,345m² of coral.
A statement from the Philippines foreign ministry said that the compensation will be used for the rehabilitation and protection of Tubbataha Reef Natural Park.
In addition, portions of the fund will be spent on enhancing the capabilities of monitoring the area and preventing similar incidents in the future.
In addition, the US Government has also provided additional assistance to the Philippine Coast Guard to upgrade its substation in Tubbataha.
An investigation report from the US Navy previously revealed that the incident "was the product of poor voyage planning, poor execution and unfortunate circumstances."
The report stated that: "USS Guardian leadership and watch teams failed to adhere to prudent, safe and sound navigation principles, which would have alerted them to approaching dangers with sufficient time to take mitigating action."
The vessel was later dismantled at sea over a two-month period to avoid further damage to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image: USS Guardian ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea. Photo: courtesy of Unidentified US Navy photographer.