The very large ore carrier Stellar Daisy, 266,141dwt, was owned by Polaris Shipping, of Seoul, South Korea, and had been built at the Nagasaki shipyard of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 1993 as the large crude oil tanker Sunrise III, 258,000dwt, of the Tokyo Tanker Co, of Tokyo.
After the International Maritime Organization (IMO) decided to phase out single-hull tankers, the Polaris Shipping Co bought four single-hulled tankers in 2006, including the Sunrise III, for conversion to very large ore carriers at the COSCO Zhoushan Shipyard, China, and between 2006 and 2008, the ship was converted under the supervision of the Korean Register.
Her centre tanks were now used as dry cargo holds and the side tanks were used for ballast or were empty. Holes were cut in the main deck for cargo hatches and coamings and extra strengthening was fitted. She entered service as the Stellar Daisy in 2008. In March, 2017, the ship had loaded some 260,000 tons of iron ore at the Vale Guaiba terminal, near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and sailed for China.
On Mar 31, a loud bang was heard and the ship began listing. A radio message was sent stating that she was taking on water and had a heavy list. A short while later, the ship sank some 1,700 miles east of Montevideo, Uruguay. Her EPIRB provided the last known position. Only two of her crew of 24 were rescued, on Apr 2, and those lost were eight South Korean and 14 Filipino seafarers.
The South Korean Government funded a $4.3mn search for the wreck. This year, the seabed survey and exploration company Ocean Infinity deployed its support ship Seabed Constructor, 7,883gt, and on Feb 18, Ocean Infinity announced that it had located the wreck at a depth of 3,461m and had recovered the ship’s voyage data recorder from the bridge.
The South Korean Ministry of Oceans & Fisheries said the Seabed Constructor had left the search area on Feb 23 for Montevideo.
Classification Society Answers Questions Raised in the Loss Report
The accident report (pdf here) indicated that the structural failure probably began in No 2 port water ballast tank and was most likely a result of combination of factors, including the strength of the ship’s structure being compromised over time due to material fatigue, corrosion, unidentified structural defects, multi-port loading and the forces imposed on the hull has a result of conditions the Stellar Daisy encountered between Mar 29-31, 2017.
The Stellar Daisy was classed with the Korean Register and it agreed with most of the findings in the report, including that the fatigue cracking was probably undetectable by visual inspection prior to the sinking, but added “there are areas of the report that are directed specifically at the Korean Register which require further explanation.”