The latest update from the Brazilian navy shows there’s significant damage near the bow of the Stellar Banner, a fully laden Polaris Shipping very large ore carrier that ran aground nine days ago 100 km into its journey from South America to China.
Meanwhile, local police are investigating whether the ship hit an unidentified object on the seabed, as the shipowner claims, or whether the vessel had departed on its journey with a defect that had not been spotted.
Divers have found a 25-metre long area damaged on the starboard side of the hull near the bow of the ship, which is still resting on a sandbar off the the coast of Maranhão with reports that the captain made the quick decision to ground the ship to avert a possible capsizing nine days ago.
Water is entering the ship, but due to the heavy currents in the area divers have not been able to assess where the ingress is. The ship is carrying 294,000 tonnes of iron ore for Vale and was bound for Qingdao when it ran aground.
Salvors Smit and Ardent Global are due to start taking off the 4,000 tons of bunker fuel on the huge ship from early next week.
At a press conference yesterday, police detailed how investigations into the Stellar Banner accident were proceeding.
“We want to understand how when it left the channel it hit something or if it was already damaged. This is important,”said the regional superintendent of the federal police of Maranhão, Cassandra Parazi.
Environment minister Ricardo Salles flew over the ship yesterday, declaring the situation to be “under control”.
Meanwhile, Brazilian authorities are having to contend with another grounded bulker. SwissMarine’s panamax Aeolian Grace ran aground shortly after setting off from Sao Francisco do Sul two days ago. Four tugs have been deployed to try and refloat the 2007-built ship.