Salvage tugs were in place trying to keep grounded VLOC Stellar Banner (IMO 9726803) from rocking too much in the waves. There were fears that the ship’s hull would breach She has 4,000 tons of bunker oil on board.
The Stellar Banner hit problems just 100 km into her journey from Brazil to China during the night of February 24th. Salvor Ardent Global was reported to be putting plans together to empty the ship of her bunker fuel before refloating her and towing her back to from Vale’s Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal in the state of Maranhao, the terminal she had just left. On return to the terminal the roughly 275,000 tons of iron ore on board (some reports claim the load was approaching 300,000 tons) would be unloaded.
A flyover during the morning of February 28th by a Brazilian Navy aircraft equipped with sensors for oil detection identified a thin oil stain in the area with radius of about 830 metres. Polaris officials maintained that the oil observed was a residue of dead oil on deck rather than a leak from the fuel tanks.
Oil spillage prevention equipment has been brought to the site. Vale said on Friday that it had contacted energy giant Petrobras to send oil spill recovery vessels to the site of the accident. The Brazilian miner was also sourcing equipment to try and contain any bunker spill.
Brazilian authorities said there were two damaged areas in the hull of the four-year-old vessel.
Polaris has recruited crisis communications personnel who should be responding promptly to any enquiries.
Local reports in Brazil claimed that the ship’s captain had manoeuvred the vessel to run aground on a sand bank after she started taking on water. A Polaris Shipping spokesperson has said that the vessel made contact with an unidentified shallow sea bed after departing Ponta Da Madeira, and that some ballast water tanks and void space had suffered damage.
The naval authorities met Thursday with Brazilian miner giant Vale SA, Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), salvage company Ardent Global, Environmental Management of Port of Itaqui and other relevant stakeholders, for an assessment of the situation.
Ibama has been asked to displace response ships and other containment equipment off the coast of Maranhão.
Ardent Global remains on site carrying out an inspection of the structural conditions of the ship and has four tugs for support and response, in case of cargo or fuel oil leaks, the navy said.
The navy has dispatched Buoy/Lighthouse Vessel Garnier Sampaio and ocean support vessel Iguatemi to the site.
The 20 crew members were evacuated from the ship promptly.
2016-built, Marshall Islands-flagged, 151,596 gt Stellar Banner is owned by VP-12 Shipping Inc care of manager Polaris Shipping Co Ltd of Seoul, South Korea. It is entered with Britannia on behalf of VP-12 Shipping Inc.