Vessel grounded in China Strait - Papua New Guinea National Maritime Safety Authority
The National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) reports that on May 3 at 1035am, the 23 years old bulk carrier vessel, MV Microstep, with cargo of logs loaded in PNG went aground in China Strait passage of Milne Bay Province.
To refloat the ship, the owner, Feng Sea Shipping, engaged the tug with barge from the log pond to offload the logs cargo from the deck using the ship’s cranes. On May 4, NMSA had carried out an inspection in accordance with Port State Control procedure. However, no detainable deficiencies were identified. The ship, however, was detained for grounding, leading to damage to coral reef and not reporting the incident to the NMSA.
On May 8 at 0512am, the ship was successfully refloated with assistance of a tug Pacific Salvor from Pacific Towing. The vessel anchored 2.4 nautical miles from the grounding area to load back the logs offloaded onto barge after grounding.
Divers from Pacific Towing conducted initial underwater survey to establish the ship’s seaworthiness condition. However, the survey did not reveal any deficiencies.
NMSA has liaised with professionals from Conservation & Environment Protection Agency (CEPA), Coral Sea Foundation and Sea Women of Melanesia experienced in biological assessment to conduct underwater survey of the reef for estimation of sustained damage to the corals. Marine Casualty Investigation is already in progress by NMSA.
NMSA’s General Manager/CEO, Paul Unas said NMSA will carry out an investigation to establish the cause of the incident and appropriate actions will be taken after the investigations.
He said the Authority will consider the implementation of the compulsory pilotage in China Strait passage as this is not the first time for such incidents to occur in this passage.
The other post incident recommendation considered by NMSA is procurement and installation of the current measurement instruments to collect and disseminate in real time information on current strength and direction to all ships entering the China Strait.
Mr Unas said NMSA is mandated to conduct investigation on all incidents that happens in PNG waters caused by ships, despite of their nationality and flag.
The ship remains detained in Alotau until NMSA complete the investigation and survey of the damaged reef and the ship owner fulfils imposed penalties decided after review of post incident reports.