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US ship diverted to Manila Bay to search for missing PAF plane

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – United States (US) salvage ship, USS Safeguard, has been diverted from Mindanao to Manila to conduct search and salvage operations in the mouth of Manila Bay for a missing Philippine Air Force (PAF) trainer plane.

USS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) is one of the US vessels scheduled to participate in this year’s joint Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2012 in Mindanao Sea for nine days starting Monday.

“One of our ships, USS Safeguard will conduct the actual salvage operations within Manila Bay area for the PAF missing plane,” said US CARAT commander Rear Admiral Thomas Carney.

The Singapore-based Carney is the commander of the logistics command of the United States (US) 7th Fleet.

Carny was referring to the PAF SF260 trainer plane that plunged along with its two pilots into the mouth of Manila Bay while on a routine proficiency training flight several weeks an hour after taking off from the Sangley Point Naval Base in Cavite City.

To date, combined efforts of the Air Force and Navy search teams to locate the ill—fated trainer plane, as well as its missing, pilot and co-pilot, have yielded negative results.

Underwater robots used to sweep the seabed of Manila Bay have failed to locate the missing plane, which fishermen saw plumeting into the sea near an island in Mariveles, Bataan.

“In this year’s CARAT, we are not only conducting joint Naval and Maritime training exercises, but actual search and salvage operations for the missing PAF plane,” Carney, in an exclusive interview, said.

Carney said that on board the US Salvage ship, equipped with high underwater detection capabilities, are 25 US navy divers and 70 highly-trained personnel in rescue and salvage operations even in the high seas.

The US salvage vessel, along with USS Vandergrift (FF-G-48) and US Coast Guard ship, USCG Waesche (WMSL-751, is in the country to participate in the CARAT 2012 in the Mindanao Sea which Filipino and US officials launched here yesterday.

On the Philippine Navy side, it is deploying BRP Magat Salamat (PS20), BRP Miguel Malvar (PS-19), BRP Salvador Abcede (PG114) BRP Iloilo and BRP Teotimo Figuracion (PG 389) and BRP Tagbanua, a navy logistic ship, while the PCG is deploying the BRP Pampanga for this year’s CARAT within the Mindanao sea.

Aside from the latest addition of minesweeping and naval insertion operations in this year’s joint training exercise, the naval activities also include search and salvage operations.

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Jaime Laude | The Philippine Star | July 2, 2012 | Article Link

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