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SBMA task force recovers stolen marine artifact
May 26, 2014

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - A Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) task force formed recently to recover items stolen from some shipwrecks in Subic Bay has retrieved an anchor believed to be part of a stash hidden by looters.

According to a report from the SBMA Law Enforcement Department (SBMA-LED), Subic authorities mounted operation "Oplan Bawi Bakal" to recover artifacts and other items stolen from various shipwrecks in Subic Bay.

The operation was mounted after an unnamed informant reported that scrap metals, including marine anchors, were stashed in the waters some 200 meters away from the shoreline off Barangay Mabayo in Morong, Bataan.

On May 14, the team composed of elements of the SBMA-LED, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Olongapo City, Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Maritime Unit-3, PNP-Special Action Force, and Morong PNP aboard two SBMA Harbor Patrol boats, the M/T Redondo and a vessel from the Boardwalk Dive Shop proceeded to the area identified by the informant.

After coordinating with the officials of Barangay Mabayo, SBMA-LED divers recovered an old common anchor full of barnacles, measuring approximately seven feet high, and three feet and five inches across.

The SBMA-LED stated that no other artifact was recovered from the area, as residents said the other items in the loot "were hidden away hastily the night before the operation was conducted."

The recovered anchor is currently in the possession of the SBMA-LED for safekeeping.

SBMA officials said the Philippine Artifacts Commission will be notified for proper identification of the recovered common anchor.

Meanwhile, the NBI-Olongapo has assumed jurisdiction over the case and is set to conduct a follow-up operation for possible recovery of other stolen artifacts and for the arrest and filing of appropriate charges against the looters.

Last March, five suspects from Morong, Bataan, were apprehended in connection with the looting of the San Quentin, a Spanish-era shipwreck that is a favorite dive site in Subic Bay.

All were subsequently released, however, due to lack of evidence.

Among other shipwrecks within the Subic Bay waters are the El Capitan, USS New York, the hell ship Oryoku Maru, Seian Maru, and a Tank Landing Ship (LST). (30)


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