Polaris VLOC sinks in Atlantic

Stellar Daisy was converted from a 1993-built crude oil tanker that Polaris purchased from Dynacom Tankers in 2007. Credit: Malte Schwarz
Stellar Daisy was converted from a 1993-built crude oil tanker that Polaris purchased from Dynacom Tankers in 2007. Credit: Malte Schwarz

A very large ore carrier owned by South Korea’s Polaris Shipping has sunk in the Atlantic Ocean during a routine Brazil–China voyage.

Twenty-two seafarers remain missing after seafarers aboard the 266,141 dwt Stellar Daisy sent out a distress signal on 31 March, saying the vessel was taking in water on the port side and was listing rapidly.

At the time, the Marshall Islands-flagged ship was near the coast of Uruguay.

Two Filipino crew members found floating in a life raft were rescued on 1 April, but other lifeboats and rafts found in the area were empty.

Of the missing seafarers, 8 are South Koreans and 14 are Filipinos.

IHS Markit’s Sea-web data show that Stellar Daisy was converted from a 1993-built crude oil tanker that Polaris purchased from Dynacom Tankers in August 2007, when the dry bulk market experienced a historic boom.

Vessel-tracking data show that Stellar Daisy departed Septeiba Outer Anchorage in Brazil on 26 March with iron ore bound for Qingdao, China.

In a statement, Polaris said, “At 23:30 h Seoul time, at the captain’s instructions, all the crew members put on their life jackets and gathered at the bridge of the vessel, but the ship was listing rapidly to its port side. We have presumed that Stellar Daisy has been lost and we’re holding out hope for a life raft, which can take up to 16 people, and which has not been found yet.”

According to one of the two rescued seafarers, a deck officer, Stellar Daisy sank quickly.

“I couldn’t see anyone else. I swam about 300 m and got on a life raft. There was a lot of seawater in Stellar Daisy due to hull damage,” he said.

The other rescued seafarer said the captain gave orders to abandon ship at 13:30 h Brazil time (about 23:30 h Seoul time).

“By the time the ‘abandon ship’ command was given, all of us had gathered at the bridge, but the ship was already listing at 15° to port side,” he said.

Families of the missing South Korean crew members have gathered in Polaris’ office in Busan, which oversees crewing and technical management, hoping for news and updates.