January 13 - The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is continuing to coordinate the response to a general cargo vessel experiencing mechanical issues near the Great Barrier Reef.

Antigua and Barbuda flagged general cargo vessel, Thor Commander, which is commercially managed by Thorco Shipping AS, reported on Sunday night it had damaged its main engine. The vessel was drifting north-east of Perkins Reef and north of Elusive Reef in the Swains Reefs group, about 379 km north-east of Gladstone when it was disabled.

A towline was established between the disabled vessel and the tug Smit Leopard from Gladstone and Thor Commander is now being towed to Gladstone by the tug and will arrive in port later this week, says AMSA.

Earlier, a towline had been maintained between the disabled vessel and an assisting Chinese flagged merchant vessel, Xinfa Hai to stop Thor Commander from drifting. The towlines were established with the assistance of Queensland Police vessel Lyle M Hoey.

Xinfa Hai towed the vessel slowly in a north-easterly direction last night ahead of the tug's arrival in the area.

The 2011-built, 9,739 dwt Thor Commander is owned by MarShip GmbH & Co KG "Sinus Aestuum" and under management of MarShip Bereederung GmbH & Co KG.