Korean Govt Assigns Search Budget for Stellar Daisy’s Black Box

A year and a half after the sinking of Stellar Daisy, the Korean Government has approved a budget for a deep sea search for the ship’s voyage data recorder.

The 266,100 dwt vessel sank on March 31, 2017, some 1,700 miles east of the Port of Montevideo, Uruguay, while transporting iron ore from Brazil to China.

The South Korean bulker was carrying 24 crew members, eight South Korean and sixteen Filipino sailors, when it sank in the South Atlantic. Only two sailors were rescued following the incident.

The remaining 22 crew members remain missing and are presumed dead.

The decision comes as a response to a plea from South Korean families of the missing crew members that have been campaigning for the authorities to continue the search operation for the missing seafarers.

The families insist the vessel’s black box needs to be found in order to determine what caused the sinking and for those responsible to be held accountable.

Based on the information disclosed so far, the conversion of the said vessel from an oil carrier to a bulker is believed to be linked to the cause of the ship’s sinking. Several other vessels from Polaris Shipping’s fleet reported hull cracks putting to question the proper operation of the vessels and their conversion, along with the alleged “slow reaction” to distress calls sent from Stellar Daisy at the time of the sinking.

The families have also asked to be involved in the selection process of the company to be entrusted with the search, a representative of the families and the supporting NGO told World Maritime News.

As a response to the decision, an individual who claims to had been the head of Superintendent & Ship Inspection at Polaris Shipping at the time of the sinking, filed an online petition at the Korean Government website, asking for the decision to be revoked.

The petition claims that the probability of finding the black box is very low, especially after such a long time since the sinking, questioning the rationale for investing either time or tax payers’ money into the endeavor. Even if found, determining the cause of the sinking would be extremely difficult, and does not provide any guarantees, he pointed out.

Furthermore, the individual believes the earmarked money of around KRW 5.4 billion (USD 4.4 million) would be better spent if directed at preventing similar accidents happening in the future by investing in the enhancement of maritime supervision and security of sailors on board vessels.

World Maritime News Staff