Salvage crews have started the operation to remove fuel oil from the stricken Stellar Banner off the coast of the Brazil.
The debunkering operation is being carried out by a jointly by Ardent and Smit Salvage with support from the offshore vessel ALP Defender and an oil spill response vessel from OceanPact, a Brazilian shipping company. During the operation, crews will pump fuel from the Stellar Banner’s tanks to a receiving vessel for transport.
Experts said previously that approximately 3,500 tons of fuel oil and 140 tons of gas oil remain on board the grounded the VLOC.
The Brazilian Navy reports that the situation remains stable with no signs of oil discharge.
Supporting the operation are approximately 255 Navy personnel along with four vessels from the nearby Port of Maranhão, two government vessels, six tugs (including three with oil spill containment equipment), four offshore supply vessels, a platform supply vessel, and a drone, according to figures released by the Navy.
The Stellar Banner ran aground approximately 100km from coast of São Luís on February 24, 2020, as it departed Vale’s Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal with iron ore bound for China. All 20 crew members were subsequently evacuated in good condition.
The Stellar Banner is a 300,663 dwt Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC) built in 2016 and registered in the Marshall Islands. It is owned and operated by Polaris Shipping of South Korea and chartered to Brazilian mining giant Vale to transport iron ore from Brazil to China.
Vale said initially that the vessel suffered damage to its bow as it departed the port and grounded as a precaution to prevent it from sinking.
Experts have said preliminary reports indicate that the impacted portion of the Stellar Banner measures approximately 25 meters in length near the starboard bow.