Efforts continue to remove the Guatemalan military vessel that was grounded near Middle Caye on the Glover’s reef Atoll in the early hours Thursday morning. Initial reports were that two vessels were transiting to Isla Mujeres when one of them suffered mechanical problems and drifted into Belizean waters and ran aground of the Barrier Reef. A team was immediately dispatched to assess damages to the coral reef. Earlier this evening the department of the Environment issued a preliminary import in which it said that since the preliminary assessment they have observed minimal damage. “Upon conducting a preliminary assessment of the incident, it has been learnt that the area where the naval vessel grounded comprises of “bear rocks” with minimal damage seen along the vessel’s path to the point of grounding and was limited to two coral species, namely Fire Coral and Elkhorn Coral. The design of the vessel, having jet propulsion and a flat bottom, has been attributed to the reason for minimal damage observed during the preliminary assessment.” The damage assessment team has been supervising the initial efforts to remove the vessel from the reef. Sometime around 5 am today a tug boat from Guatemala arrived to remove the vessel from the reef. Reports are that after several attempts, it was determined that additional ropes were necessary to safely remove the vessel since the ropes the tug boat was using kept breaking. Additional rope will be brought from Guatemala. As soon as the vessel is removed the DOE along with Fisheries Departments will fully assess the damages to the Belize Barrier Reef including damages that may occur during removal. The DOE states that upon completion the damage assessment report will be forwarded to the Ministries of National Security and Foreign Affairs.