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Log ship ran aground at China Strait in Milne Bay waters penalised - Papua New Guinea National Maritime Safety Authority

A ship owner has been penalised by the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) and fined for damage to the coral reef at the China Strait passage in Alotau, Milne Bay province and for not reporting incident to the Authority.

On May 3, the 23 years old bulk carrier vessel with cargo of logs loaded in PNG went aground in China Strait passage. To refloat the ship, the owner, Feng Sea Shipping, engaged the tug with barge from the log pond to offload the logs on deck by the ship’s cranes. After grounding of the vessel, NMSA conducted Port State Inspection and instigated the Marine Casualty Investigation of the incident to establish the root cause of incident and to implement adequate safety measurements to prevent recurrence. The report and recommendations from the Marine Casualty Investigation will be published on NMSA website.

The ship was detained following the incident for a Port State Inspection and investigation carried out to establish the cause.

Reports from Underwater Surveys (UWS) conducted separately by Pacific Towing and Conservation & Environment Protection Agency (CEPA) on request of NMSA had confirmed the damage made to the coral reef at Kui Island during the grounding of M/V “Microstep”.

On NMSA request, the expert from Coral Sea Foundation prepared estimation of the costs related to restoration of the coral reef to its condition before grounding.

On 19 May, M/V “Microstep” was released from detention after the Owner paid imposed fine for breaching Section 42 & 43 Maritime Zones Act and for not reporting incident to NMSA.

NMSA Chief Executive Officer, Mr Paul Unas congratulated the efforts by the joint investigation team to establish the facts on the incident including the extent of damage made to the coral reef. NMSA cooperation with CEPA, Pacific Towing, Coral Sea Foundation, Sea Women of Melanesia, Customs, Immigration and Water Police will continue and tighten to ensure fast and professional response to all marine incidents in PNG waters.

This incident should be a warning to other ship owners and operators that NMSA will not hesitate to impose the penalties up to the maximum limit under the applicable provisions of Merchant Shipping Act, Maritime Zones Act as well as Marine Pollution Acts.

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