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PH probe team finalizing report on US ship grounding

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By SAMMY JULIAN Manila News Bureau Chief

MANILA – The six-member Philippine Maritime Casualty Investigation Team (MCIT) is set to finalize its separate “safety of navigation inquiry” on the grounding of the USS Guardian on the Tubbataha Reef.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), a “second and final meeting” was wrapped up by the team with United States Navy (USN) investigators on April 18 at the Operations Center  of the US 7th Fleet Coordination Group in the US Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan.

During the meeting, USN investigators turned over additional documents to the MCIT that will augment the data and other information of the Philippine Coast Guard.

USN officials also informed the MCIT that the final report on their investigation of the grounding of the USS Guardian will be released soon.

The safety inquiry aims to establish the cause of the grounding of the USS Guardian, an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship, on the north side of the south shoal of Tubbataha Reef on January 17, 2013.

The inquiry also aims to identify new measures that may be undertaken by the Philippines and the US to prevent such grounding from happening again on the Tubbataha Reef./PN