"Our intention has always been to keep oil loss to a minimum so we could take it to safe anchorage."

Most of the 970 tonnes of heavy fuel oil from the vessel had been pumped out before it was refloated on Monday.

Divers will now assess the damage to the ship's hull.

Short-cut claims

Travelling at full speed and in broad daylight the Shen Neng 1 struck the Douglas Shoals section of the reef after straying off a recognised shipping lane, rupturing a fuel tank and causing a 3km-long slick.

Australian officials have accused the ship's crew of taking an illegal route through the reef, listed as a World Heritage site, promising to probe claims that ships were taking a short-cut.

On Monday, three crew members from a Panama-flagged bulk carrier were charged with illegally entering a restricted part of the reef, and are due to reappear in court in the northeastern city of Townsville on Friday.

South Korean Gang Chun Han, 63, and Vietnam's Tran Tan Thanh and Nguyen Van Sang face maximum fines of A$225,000 ($205,000), after allegedly taking the MV Mimosa through the reef.

Environmental laws bar shipping in the area in order to protect what is the world's largest coral reef.

The Great Barrier Reed sprawls along some 3,000 kilometers of Australia coast, and is home to thousands of marine species and a major tourist attraction.