The USS Guardian, which is based in Japan, crashed into Tubbataha Reef before dawn on Jan. 17 while on its way to Indonesia after making a rest and refueling stop in Subic Bay.
Most of its 79 officers and crew were transferred to two other US vessels the following day for safety reasons as the 68-meter long, 1,300-ton minesweeper was unable to maneuver on its own as it was buffeted by strong winds and waves.
The ship is aground about 30 meters from the edge of the reef, a marine sanctuary that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There had been plans to lift the warship off the reef to prevent further damage.
However, the USS Guardian had incurred major damage on its wooden hull and runs the risk of disintegrating once it is lifted from its present location. Major cracks were also seen inside the warship.
“The salvage plan to remove USS Guardian is heading that way,” officials said, citing the initial proposals by their US counterparts to lift the ship off the reef.