A major salvage operation is underway for a grounded and listing ore carrier off the coast of Brazil.
The vessel’s grounding, first reported late in February involves the loaded ore carrier Stellar Banner. The 2016-built, 300,660dwt and 340m LOA vessel, registered in the Marshall Islands has ownership listed as Polaris Shipping, South Korea.
Port operator Vale stated it was made aware by the operator of the vessel that it had suffered damage in the bow after leaving the Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal, outside the port access channel. The 20 crew members were safely evacuated from Stellar Banner, its master intentionally grounding the vessel around 100km off the coast of São Luís. Vale immediately offered technical-operational support including sending tugs and collaborating with maritime authorities. The vessel was loaded with iron ore and reported to be bound for China.
The assistance from Vale and relevant maritime and environmental authorities also included two oil spill recovery vessels, provided by Petrobras, and the hiring of salvage specialists in addition to the company contracted by the ship’s owner and operator. Measures also included the procurement of containment barriers if required and provision of helicopters to transport personnel to the incident site.
Four days after the grounding, Lloyd’s Salvage Arbitration Branch reported that Ardent Maritime Netherlands BV and Smit Salvage BV had secured a LOF agreement with SCOPIC both incorporated and invoked.
As standard with such casualties, protection of the environment was a priority for all involved and there were no reports of any leakage from the fuel tanks located at the stern and on the opposite side of the vessel. A slight oil sheen that was noticed at the site was believed to be residue of “dead oil” which was on the deck of Stellar Banner.
The parties involved, including representatives from the Brazilian Navy met to formulate a salvage plan, Ardent Global reported as having been hired by the vessel’s owner Polaris Shipping. Around a week after its initial grounding, Stellar Banner remained stable, its hull well distributed on the sand bank with no specific points of stress being detected following a diver inspection. At the time of writing the Brazilian Navy and media sources stated that removal of oil from the vessel was getting underway.
By Peter Barker
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