AsiaDry CargoOperations

IACS ‘anxious’ about Stellar Daisy loss

The head of the International Association of Classification Societies says he’s ready to learn from any defects or mistakes made in the run up to the recent sinking of the Stellar Daisy VLOC. The giant 1993-bulker, owned by South Korea’s Polaris Shipping and classed by the Korean Register, went down in the afternoon of March 31 with the presumed loss of 22 lives. A second Polaris ship – also a VLCC conversion – suffered a crack in its hull days after the Stellar Daisy sinking prompting Polaris to carry out a fleet-wide urgent inspection of its ships.

“As yet, IACS does not have sufficient confirmed information to comment or in any way speculate on the cause of the vessel’s tragic loss,” Robert Ashdown, the secretary general of IACS, told Splash.

He stressed that both the Korean Register and the ship’s registry, the Marshall Islands, are continuing to investigate the case.

“The Korean Register and IACS are anxious and ready to make any relevant contribution to the formal investigation into the events and causes of this casualty,” Ashdown said.

The IACS boss said that following the investigation it would be important to incorporate any lessons to be learned that could further improve safety and minimise future risk from this type of accident.

The Korean Register has admitted that rule changes could be on the cards following the sinking of the converted ore carrier. Intercargo and the IMO are both pushing for a serious investigation into the accident in which there were just two survivors.

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. If mv Stellar Daisy were an aeroplane then every other plane of the same type would be grounded until such time as the reason for the accident were established and a solution/fix put in place. Instead because it’s a ship we get a bunch of hand wringing from IACS and flag state who appear to be doing the square root of bugger all about it

    1. This sinking of a Stellar Daisy was a copybook bulk-carrier loss. So quick that even the lifeboats could not be lowered. The two crew members who survived are just lucky. The point is that nothing much has changed in the way bulk carriers vanish, despite all complicated math of the strengthening of the bulkheads etc.

      After this incident, the conspiracy of silence of all experts is shocking, but more than that is the propensity to look for red herrings such as liquefaction. Why doesn’t everyone just admit that we are nowhere closer to understanding bulk carrier risks than we were 20 years ago.

      The ship probably cracked into two because of bad loading practices which stressed these vessels to the maximum of SF/BMs. The mathematics of the IACS rule book is always probabilistic to some extent, hence the operators must work to minimum possible SF/BMs. The IMO must intervene to establish an independent investigation. There is no doubt that Polaris knew about the cracks in the fleet of her ships, but chose to just weld them without trying to understand the root cause. In the blind pursuit of profits, the lives of 22 seamen is cheap.

      1. Pikeman I fully agree with your statement that this noise about liquefaction is a “red herring” as to liquefy ore , you need furst to have water ingress.
        Els3 I don’t think that wrong loading and excess of SF/BM is the core issue.
        It is most likely that the whole transformation from single hull VLCC to VLOC was performed without sufficient analysis of the extra stress et fatigue resulting from transporting a high gensity cargo.
        Add to that the fact that there is no way to prevent corrosion in hold and probably unsufficient surveys by class and you can get cracks propagating all along side hull and deck.
        In that respect, final breaking in two will be result not main cause.

        1. The key to understanding this tragedy of converted vessel construction is the large void spaces as part of the ship design that cannot be avoided.

          More than 15 years ago, I did a casualty investigations for a HNM international marine re-insurer and involving a bitumen tanker. If my intuition is correct on this tragedy, like the bitumen tanker that I investigated before, this VLOC probably had large void spaces and the cargo hold(aka bins) sits inside and located centrally within this internal space.

          My conclusion on the bitumen tanker that foundered(in heavy weather conditions), was that water ingress(due to a fracture of the hull and directly caused by the cargo bin supporting devices) filling the void spaces with ingress sea water and creating the conditions for suffering negative stability and leading to an angle of loll with the resultant loss of buoyancy and its eventual foundering.

          Whether this situation is similar, we can wait and see after an official marine inquiry is convene.

          On another valid point In the Stellar Daisy case, it would be interesting to know and when it comes to the public domain from an official board of marine inquiry(the Marshall Island registry have such a regulation) whether the class organization for that vessel when accepting the vessel in class, had a realistic damage stability calculation verified as safe but the irony is that there is no IACS guidelines(at the time I did my investigations 15 years ago) or class rules specifically to deal with large void enclosed spaces for converted vessels.

      2. I do absolutely agree with your comments and proposals. However I have to point out, that the rash decision of IACS to adopt rules for converting Very Large Crude oil Carriers (liquid cargo harmonically filling the tank space) to Very large Ore Carriers (loading a non symmetrically distributed dry bulk cargo into the large hold space) is first to be blamed.
        It is very sad, I should say exasperating sad, mainly for IMO and IACS to express only their sorrow in this and other similar shipwrecks without proceeding to legislation worldwide forbidding any more conversions from oil tankers to bulk carriers. It seems, that the tragic loss of life of so many fellow seamen world-wide does not effect at all the aim of some shipping companies and ship-builders for cheap and unsafe ships.
        My condolence to the families of those 22 seamen lost with the ship-
        trap “Stellar Daisy”.-

  2. Serious investigation is very impportant also. However, we should not give up to search and rescue. They are winding down SAR as times go by even though we have not found life raft. Please do not think it is over, there is hope to be survived.

  3. The IACS are ready to learn, or even anxious to learn. What a wimpish waffle response to a very serious safety at sea issue. peoples lives are at risk every day that similar ships under the same ownership are allowed to continue to operate.

    From reports so far, the owners should be facing serious court charges and be subject to very heavy penalties including long gaol time.

    The IACS should take this seriously and act, right now.

    1. It appears that the finger points to IACS as well, they might have classed from conversion, and clearly they passed the ship as seaworthy. The details on this one are so far sketchy…the “waffle” is real. Even the story about whether another of the company’s vessels has gone to dry dock has been denied. No one in shipping is going to say where the cause really lies with this one as the scapegoats have all perished.

  4. This guy is damn right to be “anxious”.
    But with an accident clearly involving class issues, he should not rely on “investigations” by KR and flag and only feel anxious.
    It is time for clear actions against greedy class working for greedy shipowner which want to convert vessels to carry cargo type they were not intended for.

  5. Pikerman is right, they need to look at the loading done at the last port. The conversion of any vessel has to be looked into well before accepting the design for conversion.

  6. they have to put some regulations in place to adjust loading rates according to the safety limits of cargo ships in brazillian iron ore terminals.
    can you imagine that loading rate at ponta da madeira iron ore terminal is 16000 mts/hour, so that this put significnt risk to the steel construction of cargo ships .
    i believe that they have to start first greedy/non careless terminal operator in brazil even in australia…

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