MANILA, Philippines - The U.S. Navy says for safety reasons, most crew members have left a minesweeper that ran aground on a coral reef in the Philippines.
The Navy's 7th Fleet said Friday that initial efforts to free the USS Guardian during a high tide were not successful. As a precautionary measure, 72 of the 79 crew were transferred to a support vessel.
It says a small team of personnel will remain aboard and attempt to free the ship with minimal environmental impact. The remaining seven sailors, including the commanding and the executive officer, will also be transferred if conditions become unsafe.
The ship struck a reef Thursday while in transit through the Tubbataha National Marine Park, a World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea, 640 kilometres (400 miles) southwest of Manila.