South Korean authorities have issued an arrest warrant against Polaris CEO Shipping Kim Wan-joong over the sinking of their very large ore carriers (VLOC) Stellar Daisy on 31st March 2017.
The 1993-built, 266,000 dwt bulk carrier went missing 2,500 nautical miles off the coast of Uruguay after departing from Rio de Janeiro 5 days previous for a voyage to China.
The ship was sailing with a crew of 16 Filipinos and 8 Koreans. 22 crew members lost their lives in the tragedy. Final messages received from the crew were that the ship was taking on water and listing. The two survivors reported that the ship’s hull cracked before she sunk. However, the case is currently being investigated by the South Korean Coast Guard and the exact cause of the ship’s sinking is yet to be officially determined.
A total of five arrest warrants have been issued to a group inclusive of the Polaris Shipping CEO, the head of maritime affairs at Polaris Shipping, an inspector of Korean Register of Shipping, and two representatives of the private inspection company responsible for the hull thickness inspection.
Charges pressed indict the group of the violation of safety law, specifically the illegal modification of vessel for Polaris Shipping from an oil carrier to a bulk carrier, illegitimate inspection by the Korean Register of Shipping, and the forging of a document by the inspection company regarding thickness of the hull. Local media reports suggest that further charges may also be pressed against the group, including negligent homicide.
According to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, a court hearing being held on 24th January 2019 will decide on the arrest of Wan-joong and the group.
Polaris Shipping was established in South Korea in 2004 and are a company that is well known for specialising in VLOCs.