The Chinese coal carrier which ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef has been successfully refloated.

Maritime authorities pulled off the complex salvage operation without spilling any more oil.

Kara Butler reports.


The tension was running high on Douglas Shoal last night as salvage operators tried to refloat the stricken Chinese coal carrier.

“So far so good… we’ll get it!”

And then, what everyone was waiting to hear.

“Two knots astern, we are afloat.”

Nine days of anguish over the disastrous oil spill ending in triumph as the Shen Neng 1 was refloated at high tide.

The two hundred and thirty metre vessel spilled more than two tonnes of oil into Queensland’s pristine coastline.

It was towed to safe anchorage off Great Keppel Island.

Transport Minister Rachel Nolan says salvage divers will now assess the damage.

Rachel Nolan, Transport Minister: “Maritime Safety Queensland has legal responsibility to oversee this whole salvage effort. We have been watching this over every step of the way.”

The minister says she’ll also be calling on the Federal Government to extend the footprint of the reef vessel tracking system.

Rachel Nolan, Transport Minister: “We are really seeking to send a very strong message to the international shipping world that you cannot come here and crash into our reef and potentially pollute our waters.”

The Bligh government says it’s committed to protecting Queensland’s iconic marine environment.

Anna Bligh has said she will impose the toughest laws in the country, raising the maximum penalty to ten million dollars. But the opposition says this will not stop the rat-running ships in the Great Barrier Reef.

Fiona Simpson, Shadow Transport Minister: “It’s not good to enough to wait till you’ve got a crisis and then announce a review.
You have to question why the monitoring systems weren’t put in place a long time ago.”

There are questions also about damage to the reef – one expert saying it could take twenty years for the reef to recover.

Kara Butler, QUT News