Polaris Shipping has completed its clear-out of its controversial vintage converted ore carriers.
Cash buyer Best Oasis reports that the Stellar Pioneer and Stellar Topaz, both of which started trading as VLCCs in 1994, have been sold as is in Malaysia. Late last month Seoul-based Polaris also sold the 1993-built Stellar Neptune to Bangladeshi recyclers as it completes its offloading of converted ore carriers.
On March 31, 2017, another Polaris converted ore carrier, the Stellar Daisy, sank in the Atlantic with the loss of 22 lives. In the following months after the sinking, a raft of safety issues were unearthed on a number of other Polaris converted ore carriers. Under pressure from key client, Brazilian miner Vale, Polaris laid up most of its vintage fleet, ordering new bulk carriers.
VLOCs were converted from single-hull very large crude carriers in previous decades as a result of the dry bulk super cycle and the IMO regulation which mandated that all single hull tankers should be phased out by 2010.
With cheap and obsolete tanker tonnage in the market, investors eyed an opportunity to convert the ships into VLOCs and deploy them on long-term contracts of affreightment, often with a duration of 10 years.