As hopes fade for the 22 missing crew members of Stellar Daisy, there is growing speculation as to what caused the very large ore carrier to apparently sink in the Atlantic Ocean on 31 March.
The ship was owned by South Korea’s Polaris Shipping, which specialises in operating ore carriers on long-term consecutive voyage charters.
The 266,141 dwt Stellar Daisy departed Brazil on 26 March, loaded with iron ore bound for Qingdao, China but at 2330 h Seoul time on 31 March encountered difficulties.
Two of the surviving crew members said that a lot of sea water entered the vessel, which listed rapidly to port side. One of the seafarers said he believed that the ship had suffered hull damage.
The weather was described as good and the Stellar Daisy was not sailing in choppy waters, with waves that swelled to at most 4.5 metres. Neither were wind conditions strong.
Of the missing seafarers, eight are South Koreans and 14 are Filipinos.
IHS Markit’s Sea-Web data shows 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.
The seafarers were quoted as telling rescuers from the Uruguayan navy that Stellar Daisy broke into two as they escaped the vessel.
South Korean media reports said that the tanker was converted as it was of the single-hull type, which was being phased out in favour of double-hull tankers due to concerns over oil pollution.
Bereaved families of the missing South Korean seafarers gathered at Polaris Shipping’s Busan office told journalists that they think that the original age of the vessel may have caused the accident. It has also been suggested that the crew did not have enough sleep.
The Marshall Islands registry which flagged the Stellar Daisy, is investigating the accident.
The vessel had been sent for dry docking and special surveys at prescribed times and last underwent an annual inspection in August 2016. No issues were found then.