The U.S. Navy contracted vessel M/V Jascon 25 and its salvage crew guides the second deck level of USS Guardian (MCM 5) onto the deck of the vessel, March 2 in the Sulu Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anderson Bomjardim)

USS BLUE RIDGE AT SEA - U.S. Navy contracted vessel M/V Jascon 25 and Smit Borneo salvors, along with Sailors from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One, removed the upper half of the superstructure off the mine countermeasure ship USS Guardian (MCM 5), March 2.

After several days of preparation work, the team removed onboard equipment, the ship’s funnel structure and mast. Spending many hours unbolting and cutting through equipment, the Guardian’s superstructure was removed from the main deck.

“We continue to make great strides in removing the Guardian from the reef. I’m pleased with the progress that our divers and the Smit salvors are making as a team.” said Capt Mark Matthews, U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage.

Salvage experts continue to refine the salvage plan, which is a complex operation. The timeline for completion will depend on several factors, including the condition of the ship, weather conditions, and sea states. Assessments of reef damage will be conducted when the ship has been removed.

The salvage plan emphasizes safety of personnel and protection of the Tubbataha Reef ecosystem.