File photo shows the 266,141 DWT MV Stellar Daisy. Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Yeong Ryong Kim

Vale Ends Use of Converted Very Large Ore Carriers

Mike Schuler
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December 14, 2020

Brazilian mining giant Vale has announced the final delivery of iron ore using one of its converted very large ore carriers, VLOCs, after the company decided to phase out its use of the vessels.

Vale had been under pressure over its chartering of the converted vessels after the MV Stellar Daisy sank in the Atlantic Ocean in 2017 while en route to China. Only two of its 24 crew members survived.

The Stellar Daisy was among a fleet of more than two dozen VLOCs that were converted from single-hulled Very Large Crude Carriers in the mid- to late-2000s and used by Vale to transport iron ore primarily from Brazil to China. Its loss cast a shadow over the remaining conversions and subsequent inspections revealed that as many as eleven of them had some form of structural damage.

An investigation into the Stellar Daisy incident revealed the ship suffered from catastrophic hull failure during its final voyage and sank to a depth of nearly 3,500 meters. The executive summary noted that the structural damage was likely due to a combination of factors including “the strength of the ship’s structure being compromised over time due to material fatigue, corrosion, unidentified structural defects, multi-port loading, and the forces imposed on the hull as a result of the weather conditions…”.

Following a risk management review earlier this year, Vale announced in late April its intention to phase-out its use of the converted VLOCs altogether.

Vale said today that the final delivery of iron ore by the last remaining VLOC took place in China on Sunday. The company said going forward it will use more efficient and modern Valemax and Guaibamax vessels.

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