The USS Guardian became grounded on Tubbataha Reef a week ago, Stars and Stripes reported Thursday.
The 224-foot vessel has several breaches in the hull and "will have to be lifted off onto another ship or barge to leave the area," Rear Adm. Tom Carney said during a news conference with Philippine military representatives.
The ship is too badly damaged to be towed, he said.
Carney added that the ship had taken on a "significant" amount of water and was listing at about 10 degrees 20 to 30 yards from the edge of the reef.
The ship, based in Japan, ran aground at 2:25 a.m. Jan. 17 while transiting the Sulu Sea.
A Malaysian tug, Vos Apollo, began rigging lines Wednesday to offload fuel from the ship, but had to stop because of rough seas.
For the past two days, divers have been inside the Guardian, assessing damage and preparing items to be lifted off the ship to reduce the vessel's weight.
The USNS Salvor, a Military Sealift Command salvage ship, is scheduled to arrive at the site Thursday evening with divers and salvage equipment.