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U.S. pays $1.97 million to Philippines for damaged reef

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MANILA » The Philippine government said Wednesday it had received $1.97 million from the United States to pay for damage caused by a U.S. Navy minesweeper to a protected reef two years ago.

Manila received the compensation last month for the damage that resulted from the grounding of the minesweeper USS Guardian at Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The statement said the money will help rehabilitate and protect the reef and enhance monitoring of the area to prevent a repeat of the incident.

It said that in addition, the U.S. government will assist the Philippine coast guard in upgrading its station at the reef.

The park management, the World Wide Fund for Nature, and marine experts said in a joint assessment that about 25,240 square feet of corals were damaged.

The Guardian ran aground at the Tubbataha National Marine Park in January 2013 and was dismantled piece by piece over two months to prevent further damage to the reef. The U.S. Navy and the American ambassador apologized for accident.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet relieved the ship’s commanding officer, executive officer and navigator, assistant navigator and officer on deck after initial findings indicated they had failed to adhere to standard navigation procedures at the time of the grounding.

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