Nearly two years after the sinking of VLOC Stellar Daisy (IMO 9038725), arrest warrants have been sought by the Busan Coast Guard for Kim Wan-joong, the CEO and chairman of the ship’s manager, Polaris Shipping, as well as four other men who are accused of allowing the converted ship to travel in unsafe conditions, reports Yonhap.
Polaris’s former head of maritime affairs was also reported to be facing arrest.
The sinking of Stellar Daisy resulted in the deaths of 22 crew in the South Atlantic.
An inspector from class society, Korean Register and two other men who worked for a private survey firm are also likely to be arrested, local reports claimed.
The charges include the illegal modification of the vessel and a forged document from a technician at a private company regarding the thickness of the steel plate of the vessel
Criminal charges could include involuntary manslaughter and/or negligent homicide.
This month a deep-sea search for the ship and its vessel data recorder, to be conducted by American subsea survey company Ocean Infinity, is expected to conclude. Ocean Infinity was hired by the government of South Korea late last year to conduct a search for the VLOC. Polaris Shipping operated the Stellar Daisy, which went missing off Uruguay on April 1st 2017. The ore carrier had 24 crew at the time. Their final message was that she was taking on water and listing, and the two survivors of the casualty reported that her hull cracked before she went down. The cause of the loss has not yet been officially determined.
A court hearing was set for Thursday January 24th.
Stellar Daisy was originally single-hulled crude tanker Sunrise III. In the late 2000s a South Korean bulker firm bought the Sunrise and several other VLCCs for conversion to dry bulk ore carriers (VLOCs). More than 20 vessels which underwent a similar conversion are in operation today.
In May 2017, South Korean Coast Guard investigators went into Polaris’ offices in Seoul and Busan as part of an inquiry into the cause of the sinking.
1993-built, Marshall Islands flagged, 148,431 gt Stellar Daisy is owned by VP-14 Shipping of Majuro, Marshall Islands. It is managed by Polaris Shipping Co Ltd-KRS of Seoul, South Korea