Vale to phase out 25 converted VLOCs

Brazilian miner Vale has decided to phase out the 25 very large ore carriers that were converted from very large crude carriers following numerous technical flaws on the ships.

The ships would be phased out through early termination or amendments of contracts, Vale said in its quarterly report.

Structural faults were blamed for the 2017 sinking of the converted VLOC Stellar Daisy, owned by the South Korean company Polaris Shipping. Only two Philippine sailors were rescued from 24 crew members that included 8 Korean and 16 Filipino sailors.

Investigations into the cause of the sinking pointed to a catastrophic structural failure of the ship’s hull due to material fatigue, corrosion, and other structural defects.

Cracks and structural defects were identified on other ships owned by Polaris which had been previously converted from VLCCs including the 1994-built Stellar Queen and the 1993-built bulk carrier Stellar Unicorn.

The decision comes in the wake of an incident involving Stellar Banner, which ran aground and started tilting on its side back in February.

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The 2016-built ship, owned and operated by Polaris Shipping, suffered damages and ran aground after leaving the Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal, in the state of Maranhão, loaded with approximately 295 kt of Vale’s iron ore.

Vale has been supporting the shipowner with technical-operational and preventive measures, to remove the fuel and cargo from the ship, and prevent a major environmental disaster.

Based on the update, salvors managed to remove the fuel from the ship on March 27th, 2020. Efforts are still underway to unload the ship before it can be removed from the site.

” In 1Q20, Vale spent close to $ 1 million supporting the shipowner of the Stellar Banner vessel. Most of the vessel’s rescue expenses will be recognized in the second quarter. Discussions with insurance companies are in course to recover amounts related to expenses and cargo revenue,” Vale said.