US Navy: Ship stuck in Philippines used faulty map

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 19, 2013 at 5:39 am •  Published: January 19, 2013
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The World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines said that according to an initial visual inspection, the 68-meter- (74-yard-) long, 1,300-ton Guardian damaged at least 10 meters (yards) of the reef, which UNESCO designated as a World Heritage Site. It is part of Southeast Asia's Coral Triangle, a huge stretch of ocean that contains most of the world's coral species, reefs, and more than 3,000 species of fish.

Angelique Songco, head of the government's Protected Area Management Board, said the government imposes a fine of about $300 per square meter (yard) of damaged coral, plus other fees.

In 2005, the environmental group Greenpeace was fined almost $7,000 after its flagship struck a reef in the same area.

Songco blamed the Guardian for turning away park rangers who wanted to board the minesweeper, but the Navy said it was cooperating with the Philippine government, a key U.S. defense ally.

Presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the government will observe the law governing the Tubbataha Reef, but right now "the primary concern is extricating the ship out of the reef with minimal damage."

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Associated Press writer Audrey McAvoy in Honolulu, Hawaii, contributed to this report.