U.S.-based ocean exploration firm Ocean Infinity has located the wreck of the lost South Korean bulk carrier Stellar Daisy in the South Atlantic Ocean approximately 1800 nautical miles due west of Cape Town, the company announced Sunday.
The Stellar Daisy, a 266,000 DWT Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC), sank on 31 March 2017 while transporting iron ore from Brazil to China. Tragically, 22 of the 24 crew were lost.
Working from Ocean Infinity’s Seabed Constructor, the search operation involved the deployment of four Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) which search approximately 1,300 km2 of seabed over the course of the 72-hour search.
The wreck was located at a depth of 3461 meters, the company said.
The announcement that the wreck had been found comes a little over a week after the company said that the Seabed Constructor had set sail from Cape Town to conduct the search.
Representatives of both The Government of South Korea, who awarded Ocean Infinity the contract for the search in December, and the families of Stellar Daisy’s crew, were present throughout the operation.
Now that the wreck has been located, the crew of the Seabed Constructor will now conduct an extensive survey of the wreck using 3D imaging technology and attempt to recover the voyage data recorder.
“We are pleased to report that we have located Stellar Daisy, in particular for our client, the South Korean Government, but also for the families of those who lost loved ones in this tragedy,” said Oliver Plunkett, Ocean Infinity. This operation is further testament to Ocean Infinity’s leading, technology led, search capability. Through the deployment of multiple state of the art AUVs, we are covering the seabed with unprecedented speed and accuracy. I would like to thank the Government of South Korea for their support, as well as all of the team onboard Seabed Constructor.”
Based in Houston, Texas, Ocean Infinity has earned a reputation for their involvement in recent high-profile subsea searches, including the unsuccessful search for the missing airliner MH370 in the Indian Ocean and the Argentine submarine that went missing off the coast of Patagonia, which Ocean Infinity successfully located in November.
The locating of the Stellar Daisy comes under pressure for the South Korean government to complete its investigation into the tragedy. Nearly two years after its sinking, a full investigation report into what caused the sinking is yet to be submitted to the IMO.
Stellar Daisy, which was owner and operated South Korea’s Polaris Shipping, was one of about a dozen VLOCs that the company had converted from Very Large Crude Carriers in the 2000’s.
Ocean Infinity’s AUVs are capable of operating in water depths from 5 meters to 6,000 meters. The AUVs are not tethered to the vessel during operations, allowing them to go deeper and collect higher quality data for the search. They are equipped with a side scan sonar, a multi-beam echo-sounder, a sub-bottom profiler, an HD camera, a conductivity / temperature / depth sensor, a self-compensating magnetometer, a synthetic aperture sonar and a turbidity sensor.