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Dark patches around grounded Polaris VLOC spark fears of bunker spill

Aerial images recorded by the Brazilian Navy yesterday show a series of dark spots around the Stellar Banner, a fully laden very large ore carrier that ran aground on Monday night 100 km from Vale’s Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal in the state of Maranhao.

Brazilian authorities said there are two damaged areas in the hull of the four-year-old Polaris Shipping ship that had just set off for China when it ran into trouble.

In an update yesterday, Vale said it had contacted energy giant Petrobras to send oil spill recovery vessels to the site of the accident. The Brazilian miner is also sourcing equipment to try and contain any bunker spill. Salvage experts have been deployed and are planning to remove the many tonnes of bunker fuel as a priority.

Crisis communications personnel retained by Polaris have yet to reply to questions sent by Splash earlier today.

According to local reports in Brazil, the ship’s captain manoeuvred the vessel to run aground on a sand bank after it started taking on water. A spokesperson for Polaris Shipping told Splash yesterday that the giant bulker, which was carrying some 275,000 tons of iron ore, made contact with an unidentified shallow sea bed after departing Ponta Da Madeira with some ballast water tanks and void space suffering damage.

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. STELLAR BANNER’s CONTROLLED GROUNDING AFTER VLOC TAKING ON WATER: Construction safety & inadequate structural-integrity of POLARIS-converted VLCCs to VLOCs, under the oversight of Class KR and the flag State administration, appears to continue to be problematic.
    How many very serious marine casualties VSMCs are required before IMO recognizes gaps/loopholes with how they don’t perform adequate top-down oversight?
    IMO’s feckless oversight (not performing auditors of the auditors – ROs and flags), totally relying on these for-profits organizations (“flags of convenience” & ROs), which in-turn means likelihood of decisions-made adversely-influenced by commercial pressures (flag States & ROs competing for tonnage), is responsible for VSMCs consequences from which multiple seafarer fatalities and large oil spills. As “they say here in Canada,” get a grip IMO. And, international marine insurers & underwriters (Hull/Machinery) and P&I Clubs, also get a grip.

  2. The Conversions of ship in red hot market have been practisized for centuries. Polaris shipping did it through the Extreme market there was for 10 – 12 year ago.

    I’m not quite sure Stella Banner is a Converted VLOC from VLCC. She seems too young for that.

    It’s also tragig the info the Company Polaris shipping gives out. The send out some statements, but on there English related website there is nothing. Only “happily” events, e.g News of delivery of the New VLOC “Sao Joy”, released day after the grounding of “Banner”. Maybe it’s the fear of losing face?

    Should be taken into consideration when we know the Company aims to be listed in an IPO in Singapore or Oslo. Places where they demand openess.

    Dag Georg Johannessen

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