Pics: The USS Guardian is cut to pieces from a reef in the Philippines
The ship itself was evacuated of sailors long ago and the decommissioning ceremony is a wrap, but work to remove the USS Guardian from the UNESCO heritage reef it is stuck on is expected to continue at least through the week.
A quick timeline (pics below are courtesy U.S. Navy) :
■The 224-foot Navy minesweeper ran aground off the coast of the Philippines in the Sulu Sea on Jan. 17.
■All 79 crewmembers were removed safely from the ship the next day and the ship was said to be a complete loss.
■Salvage and removal was delayed after the first crane was deemed incapable; dismantling began Feb. 22.
■The grounding on the Tubbataha Reef, a World Heritage Site, could come with fines for the U.S. Navy, adding to the estimated $25 million in removal costs.
■Leadership, sailors and the USS Guardian community decommissioned the ship March 6 in a somber ceremony.
The USS Guardian sits in the Sulu Sea in the Philippines, stuck on the Tubbataha Reef, where it has been since Jan. 17, 2012. A Malaysian tug arrives Jan. 27 to remove hazardous material from the U.S. Navy ship.
Aerial shot shows contracted vessels working on the dismantling of the USS Guardian off the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea, off the coast of the Philippines, March 12, 2013.
A contracted worker uses a torch to cut through steel in the engine room of the USS Guardian on March 12, 2013.
A crew member guides a hoisted engine from the USS Guardian as it is dismantled atop the Tubbataha Reef, March 13, 2013.
A U.S. Navy diver assigned to disassemble equipment from the grounded USS Guardian works aboard the minesweeper March 12, 2013.
A superstructure segment of the grounded USS Guardian is removed by a crane aboard the salvage ship M/V Jascon 25 during work in the Sulu Sea on March 8, 2013.
A hospital corpsman uses a saw to grind through the steel in the engine room of the grounded USS Guardian, March 11, 2013.
A large superstructure is severed from the grounded USS Guardian then lifted via crane to the dismantling vessel M/V Jascon 25 during work adjacent to the Tubbataha Reef on March 8, 2013.
U.S. navy personnel and hired hands work on removing mine countermeasures from the grounded USS Guardian, which sits atop the Tubbataha Reef, March 11, 2013.
What remains of the USS Guardian after over three weeks of dismantling work in the Sulu Sea, Philippines, on March 11, 2013.