By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) Updated September 24, 2009 12:00 AM
A vessel dredging the mouth of the Pasig River as part of the river rehabilitation program accidentally struck and recovered last Saturday a submerged World War II vintage battle tank that had sunk in Manila Bay.
Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesman who accompanied newsmen to the grab dredger vessel G/D Waling-Waling that was conducting operations 10 kilometers off the Bataan Shipping Co. (Baseco) compound in Tondo, Manila, said the Waling-Waling, which is operated by sub-contractor Kwan Sing Construction Corp., discovered the sunken Sherman M4-A1 tank at around 2 a.m. last Sept. 19.
The tank, covered by mud and silt, was later transferred to the Kwan Sing’s direct barge D/B Naghahari.
Kwan Sing construction manager Alex Andres said that their crane, which has the capacity to haul 40-tons, pulled out the solid steel tank estimated to weigh 10 tons.
“We did not expect to find a tank in the operation. We would turn it over to the PCG because of its historical value to the country,” said Andres.
The PCG sought the guidance of the National Museum on what to do with the remnants of the tank.
Balilo said that this was the first time that a battle tank was fished out from Manila Bay.
Balilo also disclosed that the dredging firm also recovered last July 25 a war vintage 105 Howitzer cannon that belonged to the Japanese Navy, also off the Baseco area.
When asked about the possibility of a vintage bomb lying in the waters of Manila Bay, Balilo said: “There are stories that ships sank in Manila Bay during World War II. Maybe a battleship carried the tank. But we have yet to find the ship.”
Balilo said that the sunken ship should be salvaged because it could become a hazard to navigation.
He said the area where the vintage tank and cannon were found is about 10 to 15 meters deep.
“There is no certainty that passing vessels would not hit the submerged vessel, if there is indeed such a ship,” Balilo.
Balilo said there is also the possibility that the dredging vessel might hit vintage bombs lying on the seabed that could explode.
“We could send divers into the water, but even if we send them I doubt if they would be able to see under the murky Manila Bay water and it might cause problems for our divers if their feet get stuck in the silt,” Balilo added.
The PCG said Kwan Sing has been conducting dredging operations for the last three months.