AsiaDry CargoOperations

Cracks surface on another Polaris VLOC

Another ore carrier belonging to under pressure Polaris Shipping from South Korea has a couple of cracks on its deck.

The Stellar Queen, a 1994-built VLCC that was converted into an ore carrier in 2012, has two cracks on its upper deck, a spokesperson for the Korean line told Splash today. The ship was en route from China to Brazil when the cracks were found. The ship is now docked in Sao Luis according to multiple vessel tracking services.

The owner confirmed that Stellar Queen has found cracks onboard, and currently the owner is working with its classification society to solve the issue, but no timeframe has been given for the vessel to resume operations, a spokesperson said today.

The news will likely prove a hammer blow to Polaris’s plans to list this summer. Polaris is the world’s largest owner of very large ore carriers. However, its reputation has been hit hard following the sinking with the likely loss of 22 lives of the Stellar Daisy, another elderly converted ore carrier, on March 30 followed by cracks being found in another vintage ore carrier and machinery errors on another ship.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Really would be ideal if all the converted VLOCs were scrapped since it’s not just an oversupply issue but clearly a safety issue.

    I’ve heard an intriguing rumour recently that haven’t had verified – but seemingly, the charterers VALE have been unwilling to allow owners like Polaris to substitute these vessels for more modern tonnage for these iron ore cargoes.
    Perhaps being cynical but of course scrapping these overaged units would push the market up…


  2. Classification societies are starting to look extremely bad here. Several deaths occurred — and real problems have now been found several times.

    Independent of rates, independent of politics, independent of covering one’s butt…. all converted VLOCs should not be allowed to operate and should be scrapped. If Polaris was a publicly listed company, this would have received much more attention and already all converted VLOCs would have been forced to go the way of the dodo.

    Congrats to SPLASH for really good coverage. Seems only a matter of time before a major announcement is made regarding converted VLOCs no longer being fit for service going forward

  3. Agree with Peter that the credibility of classification societies (and thus, their very purpose) is becoming cloudy at best. As we saw in the disastrous EL FARO tragedy, regulators work hand in hand with inspectors and owners that responsibility and obligation of each individual entity start becoming muddied. Who shall be blamed and for what?

    At the very least, are the original builders, the conversion yard, the owners, classification society, and port state inspectors working together to do a forensic review of the still operating ships? This is a learning opportunity for all. The industry will benefit from studying the ships still operating with the various cracked hulls. But I suspect the owners at Polaris want to simply cover up as much as possible, get it all fixed, and continue operating and ensuring profits as quickly and quietly as possible.

    This is what our industry does. Nobody really cares about long term impact on future designs, the safety of ships and crews, or potential for further disaster. The greater concern (especially in today’s market) is minimizing losses and maximizing return for investors and shareholders.

  4. Polaris should be banned from sailing till these safety issue are meant! I, made the remark a month ago about Polaris, that all of there vessel have cracks I, see I, was right.. These vessel will continue to have cracking problems due to their conversion.

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