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April 12, 2010

Chinese coal carrier refloated

Shen Neng 1, the Chinese coal carrier that grounded on the Great Barrier Reef has been refloated.

It was set to undergo initial inspection Tuesday after being towed to a safe anchorage around five nautical miles northeast of Great Keppel Island.

Overnight the Chinese coal carrier was moved around 35 nautical miles after successfully being refloated off Douglas Shoal.

Maritime Safety Queensland General Manager Patrick Quirk said the refloating operation had gone well and there was no sign of further oil leaking from the ship.

"This has been a step-by-step operation," Mr. Quirk said. "We've worked hard to identify the risks, assess them, address them and where possible, minimize them. It was a great effort by all involved.The vessel is now safe at anchor and the salvors have indicated they can begin initial inspections today."

Shortly after 6pm Monday, three tugs with cables hooked up to the Shen Neng 1 and began pulling the ship and its 65,000 tonnes of coal off Douglas Shoal.

"We need a full condition report from the divers so we can then make an assessment of the options for the ship's future movement," Mr. Quirk said. "We've had aircraft up this morning and there's no sign of oil in the water. "But we'll keep our response craft on hand and on watch to spot any leak that may occur."

Mr. Quirk said once the salvors had undertaken their initial assessment they would make further plans for the vessel's repair and repatriation. Initial details are expected by the end of the week.


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