Stellar Banner Grounding: Vale Mobilizing Oil Spill Response Assets

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 120
February 28, 2020
Stellar Banner aground approximately 100km from São Luís, Brazil.

Update: March 3, 2020

Salvage and oil spill response assets are being mobilized to deal with the partially submerged Stellar Banner stranded off the coast of Brazil.

The Brazilian Navy on Thursday met with representatives from Vale, salvor Ardent Global, and local government officials to go review the best course of action for the vessel, which remains aground approximately 60 miles from São Luís. 

Vale so far has requested  oil spill recovery vessels from Petrobras to help contain any oil leaks from the vessel. Meanwhile, it has also requested for formal authorization from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) to mobilize additional vessels to the area to help with the response. 

Vale said the South Korean owner and operator of the Stellar Banner, Polaris Shipping, has hired global salvage firm Ardent Global to draw up salvage plans. 

The Brazilian Navy reported Thursday that the shipowner has four tugs on scene for support and response in case any oil leaks from the vessel. The Navy said Thursday that so far no fuel leaks had been confirmed, however images posted online show oil sheens on the surface of the water surrounding the vessel, sparking fears that bunker fuel could be leaking from the ship’s tanks.

The 300,663 dwt Stellar Banner started listing and was intentionally grounded Monday night after departing Vale’s Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal where it loaded iron ore bound for Qingdao, China. 

Vale said initial reports Polaris indicate that the ship suffered damage to its bow shorty after leaving the terminal and the vessel was grounded to prevent it from sinking. 

All 20 crew members have been evacuated in good condition. 

The MV Stellar Banner is a Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC) built in 2016 and registered in the Marshall Islands. It is owned and operated by Polaris Shipping and chartered to Brazilian mining giant Vale to transport iron ore from Brazil to China.

Polaris Shipping was also owner of the 266,141 dwt Stellar Daisy which sunk in the Atlantic Ocean in March 2017 with the loss of all but two of the ship’s twenty-four crew members. The wreckage of the vessel was eventually located in last February 2019 in 3,461 meters of water.

The investigation into the incident found that the likely direct cause of the Stellar Daisy’s foundering was a rapid list to port following a catastrophic structural failure of the ship’s hull that resulted in a loss of buoyancy and uncontrolled flooding.

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