The pick-up operations for the navy's flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar, stuck in the Philippine western sea where it got stuck, can start this week when the two tugs tapping to pull the ship are already steaming in the direction of the area.
Officer of military affairs, Col. Noel Detoyato said one of the tugs would arrive on the Hasa hasa Shoal (Half Moon Shoal) on Sunday afternoon. "(We are) still awaiting the arrival of the tugboats from Batangas, one is arriving this afternoon and the other is already working," Detoyato said on Sunday.
"Only then will the actual pick-up operations begin," he added.
On the weekend, military officials said that the withdrawal of the earthed warship may commence on Monday after chartering the tugs for the operations and completing the first assessments, both on the ship and at the location where it was grounded.
The reviews were conducted by sailors and divers from the Philippine Coast Guard, who sent two of his multi-role and response vessels (MRRV 4407 and 4409) in and near the area where the Gregorio del Pilar was stuck.
The warship, purchased as a former cutter of the US Coast Guard, was on routine patrol in the Philippine western sea when it ran aground on Wednesday evening between Pagasa and the southern tip of Palawan.
None of the officers and crew members of the ship were injured, although the thrusters on the side were "minimally" damaged.
China has offered its help in the recovery operations, but Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana has rejected the offer and claims that the army can free the ship independently.
The military activated the Joint Task Force Goyong as a result of the accidental grounds of the Gregorio del Pilar on the Hasa hasa Shoal, sending assets from the Navy, the Coast Guard and the Air Force in the area for security and pick-up operations.
The task force is led by Commodore Rommel Galang, commander of the Naval Task Force West.
Detoyato said that Galang will manage, guide and lead the pick-up operations so that the master of Gregorio del Pilar can oversee the day-to-day operations and security of the ship.