Stellar Banner scuttled after being declared unseaworthy

Giant very large ore carrier Stellar Banner, owned by Polaris Shipping from Korea,  has been scuttled off the Brazilian coast after an inspection of the ship’s hull found the ship to be unseaworthy.

Image Courtesy Brazilian Navy

“Following an extensive inspection by the classification society and the surveyors, the structural integrity of the hull was been declared unseaworthy. Towing the vessel to shore presented significant safety concerns,” Polaris Shipping confirmed to our publication.

The vessel was scuttled on Friday, June 12th after being refloated and towed to deeper waters for inspection at the beginning of June.

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To remind, the 2016-built ship ran aground and developed a heavy starboard list on February 24, 2020 off the coast of São Luís, in the state of Maranhão, Brazil. The ship experienced bow damage that led to its grounding. The 20 crew members were evacuated from the vessel and there were no reported injuries to the crew.

The ship was on its way out of the access channel of Ponta da Madeira maritime terminal, heading to Qingdao, China, loaded with 275,000 tonnes of iron ore when it got grounded.

The salvage operation has been ongoing ever since.

Prior to the ship’s refloating, salvage teams, led by Ardent and OceanPact, removed approximately 3,500 tons of fuel oil to a receiving vessel in order to prevent an oil spill. The operation was completed at the end of March.

Salvors proceeded with the unloading of the ship’s cargo comprising approximately 295 kt of Vale’s iron ore, enabling the ship to right by 12 degrees from its list and some of its submerged decks to emerge from the water.

Polaris Shipping said that the scuttling operation was conducted and closely monitored by a salvage team, maritime and environmental authorities.

“Prior to scuttling, floating objects, such as mooring line and pollutants, also a minimal quantity of gas oil which had remained onboard have been removed. Part of the iron ore, navigation equipment and basic machinery remained on the vessel, which are deemed to pose no risk to marine life,” the company added.

The Brazilian Navy said that it continues to monitor the area for possible oil and material stains that may appear after the sinking.

A Poseidon aircraft, contracted by Ibama, carried out overflights in the region over the weekend and no oil stains were seen, navy said in an update.

An oil spill response vessel Água Marinha and ocean support vessel Iguatemi remain in place in order to continue monitoring the area, where they will remain 72 hours after the vessel is scuttled.