WESCOM via AFP - Getty Images
A photo released on Jan. 18, 2013 by the Philippine Western Command (WESCOM) shows the US Navy minesweeper USS Guardian after it ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef in the western Philippine island of Palawan on Jan. 17.
The crew of a U.S. Navy minesweeper that ran aground in a protected marine sanctuary off the Philippines was evacuated on Friday as the ship remained stuck on a reef.
The USS Guardian, an Avenger-class minesweeper, hit the Tubbataha Reef in the Sula Sea at 2:25 a.m. local time Thursday (1:25 p.m. Wednesday ET).
Attempts to free the ship at high tide were not successful, the Navy said in a statement, and all 79 crew members were subsequently transferred to two nearby support vessels.
"Seventh Fleet ships remain on scene and essential Guardian Sailors will continue conducting survey operations onboard the ship as needed until she is recovered," said Vice Adm. Scott Swift, U.S. Seventh Fleet commander. "Several support vessels have arrived and all steps are being taken to minimize environmental effects while ensuring the crew’s continued safety."
The reason for the grounding remains under investigation, the Navy said.