Salvors are preparing to rescue a grounded very large ore carrier (VLOC) off the Brazilian coast before its bunker tanks are breached
Ardent Global, with at least four tugs and rescue vessels at hand, is engaged in salvage operations on listing Stellar Banner. It is preparing to tow this grounded VLOC before its 4,000 tonnes of bunker oil can pollute the environment.
Polaris Shipping’s 300,660-dwt bulker was loaded with 290,000 tonnes of iron ore from a terminal in Ponta da Madeira, Brazil and had just started its voyage to Qingdao, China when it ran into trouble.
The 2016-built ship is stranded 100 km off the coast of São Luís, Maranhão. It is feared it has already started leaking oil as aircraft equipped with oil detection sensors identified a thin oil sheen.
Salvors plan to empty the ship’s bunker fuel, refloat the damaged bulker and tow it back to the terminal before wave action causes a fuel tank rupture.
Polaris Shipping said it was working with charterer Vale to mobilise anti-pollution teams to the site to closely monitor the stranded ship. Vale said it dispatched two oil-spill recovery vessels from state energy group Petrobras to contain any spillage from Stellar Banner.
All crew members are reportedly safe and cargo holds are believed to be intact. But, as a result of the incident, some ballast water tanks and void space suffered damages.
Video of damaged and listing VLOC Stellar Banner
This was not the only ship grounding at the end of February. In the eastern Mediterranean, three ships were damaged as they grounded on coastlines, according to Fleetmon information.
In adverse weather, general cargo ship Clavigo dragged anchor and drifted onshore at Tuzla, Marmara Sea, in Turkey on 27 February. As it did so, it struck anchored general cargo ship Dede. They became entangled and both ships drifted on to a shoreline.
Dede and Clavigo sustained damages and Dede capsized on the embankment. Both crews were rescued and no injuries were reported.
In another accident, general cargo ship Von Perle ran aground on the beach of northeast Kos island, Greece. It was en route from Ukraine to Famagusta, Cyprus, with a cargo of corn when it struck a sandy beach on 1 March.