An elderly Singapore-owned bulker has been detained in Papua New Guinea after grounding on a coral reef.

The incident involving the 28,300-dwt Microstep (built 1996) happened on 3 May in the China Strait passage of Milne Bay, according to the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA).

The Panama-flag handysize was carrying a cargo of logs from Port Moresby.

Owner Feng Sea Shipping brought in a tug and barge to lighter the cargo from the deck using cranes.

An inspection by the NMSA on 4 May revealed no detainable deficiencies, but the bulker was held pending assessment of any liability for damage to the reef.

The vessel was refloated on 8 May with the help of a Pacific Towing tug and moved to an anchorage 2.4 miles (3.9 km) from the grounding site to reload the logs.

Pacific Towing divers carried out a hull survey and found no damage.

Reef damage being surveyed

An assessment of damage to the coral is being made in conjunction with experts from the Conservation & Environment Protection Agency.

The accident is also being investigated by the NMSA.

The Loop website cited NMSA chief executive Paul Unas as saying compulsory pilotage will now be considered for the strait, as this is not the first such incident there.

The Microstep remains in the port of Alotau.

Feng Sea Shipping could not immediately be contacted for comment.

The Microstep was detained in Malaysia in January after failing a port state control inspection with seven deficiencies.

Grounds for the detention were problems with fire pumps and the weather-tightness of cargo and other hatchways.