15 JUNE 2020
On Friday morning, salvors sent the very large ore carrier Stellar Banner to the bottom off the coast of Maranhão, Brazil, just four years after her construction and four months after she went aground.
In a months-long lightering effort, the salvage team removed about 3,900 cubic meters of fuel oil and about 140,000 tonnes of iron ore from the Stellar Banner’s holds. Salvors successfully refloated the Stellar Banner on June 3, and after the refloat, divers and class surveyors carried out a structural inspection. The vessel was declared a total loss, and her owner – South Korean firm Polaris Shipping – proposed to dispose of her by scuttling.
A video of her sinking appears to show a release of iron ore from her holds as she founders. According to the Brazilian Navy, the remaining amount of cargo on board is not a threat to the environment. The AHTS Bear, the MPSV Normand Installer, the Brazilian Navy vessel Iguatemi and an oil spill response vessel will remain on scene for three more days in order to monitor for debris or pollution.
On February 24, the Stellar Banner suffered damage to her bow during her departure from the Vale-operated Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal in Maranhão. Her 20 crewmembers were evacuated safely, according to Vale, and “the vessel’s captain [grounded] the vessel about 100 kilometers off the coast of São Luís” as a precautionary measure. The vessel took on a heavy list after the grounding but did not capsize.