Cracks found on another Polaris ore carrier

Stellar Queen (seen here under previous ownership). Credit: Fotoflite
Stellar Queen (seen here under previous ownership). Credit: Fotoflite

Polaris Shipping confirmed to IHS Markit on Monday that cracks had been found on another of its ore carriers.

Measuring 2.5 m and 1.5 m, the two cracks were spotted on the upper deck in the ballast tank area of Stellar Queen as the ship sailed from China to Brazil. Water has been leaking from them.

A company spokesman said, “The MV Stellar Queen is currently in Sao Luis, Brazil. Surveyors from Korean Register have gone into the ship for inspections.”

IHS Markit’s Sea-web data show that the 305,846 dwt Stellar Queen was converted from a single-hull tanker in 2009 and sold to Brazilian miner Vale, which then sold the vessel to Polaris in 2012.

Polaris, known for operating a fleet of ore carriers on consecutive voyage charters with industrial shippers, such as Vale, POSCO, and Korea Electric Power Corporation, has been under fire after the 31 March sinking of Stellar Daisy.

Twenty-two crew members from Stellar Daisy remain unaccounted for and just two survivors were found. Like another 18 of Polaris’s 32 bulk carriers, Stellar Daisy was converted from a single-hull tanker, in 2009. The loss of Stellar Daisy has caused speculation into the safety of such converted bulk carriers, especially when the survivors claimed that the ship broke in two before sinking.

Shortly after the disaster, another Polaris ore carrier, Stellar Unicorn, had to be diverted to Cape Hope for repairs to a cracked hull, lending more fuel to the speculation.

As of 20 April, Polaris Shipping had initiated inspections on all its ore carriers, amid growing concern over the safety of its fleet.

Polaris ore carriers that pass the initial onboard inspection will undergo a special survey by superintendents from Polaris, KR, and Tae-Yang, a specialist steel strength-gauging company, as each vessel arrives at its earliest load or discharge port.

Lloyd’s Register will deploy three technical advisers to inspect each vessel in turn and recommend solutions to structural strength and design issues.

These initial condition surveys at the load and discharge ports will be followed by further in-depth survey and analysis of each vessel, the results of which will be reported to KR for verification of hull strength in consultation with Lloyd’s Register.

Any irregularities will be rectified according to a hull-strengthening plan approved by KR in consultation with Lloyd’s Register.