A U.S. navy minesweeper ship remains stuck on a reef after running aground in the Sulu Sea in the Philippines.
In a statement from the Navy's Seventh Fleet, cited by ABC News, the USS Guardian (MCM-5) ran aground on the Tubataha Reef at 2:25 a.m. local time while transiting in the Sulu Sea. The reef is located almost 400 miles south of the Philippine capital of Manila.
The statement added that the Avenger-Class mine countermeasures ship was en route to its next port of call when the grounding occurred in the middle of the Sulu Sea.
"The ship is currently stuck on the reef, approximately 80 miles east-southeast of Palawan Island," the statement said. "The crew is currently working to determine the best method of safely extracting the ship."
Officials familiar with the situation told ABC News that while the grounding is under investigation, an initial damage assessment did not find any leakage of fuel or oil from the ship.
In addition, no injuries were reported among the ship's crew of 81, which includes six officers and 75 enlisted sailors.
Based in Sasebo, Japan, the USS Guardian is part of the Navy’s 14 Avenger-Class ships, which "are designed as mine sweepers/hunter-killers capable of finding, classifying and destroying moored and bottom mines," according to a Navy fact sheet.
Coming in at 224-feet long, the USS Guardian uses sonar and video systems, cable cutters and a mine detonating device that can be released and detonated by remote control. They are also capable of conventional sweeping measures.
Angelique Songco, head of the government’s Protected Area Management Board, told the Associated Press that while it was unclear how much of the reef was effected, the government imposes a fine of about $300 dollars per square meter (yard) of corals that are damaged.
The environmental group Greenpeace in 2005 was fined almost $7,000 after its flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, struck a reef in the same area, the AP reported.
Songco added that the ship may be able to float free during a high tide later on Thursday.