Polaris Shipping’s ore carrier, Stellar Eagle, was found to have 22 unauthorised modifications. Credit: Malte Schwarz
South Korean ore shipping specialist Polaris Shipping has been ordered by authorities to correct unauthorised modifications made to one of its ships.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) said on 22 March that following special ship inspections carried out in China’s Rizhao port, the 278,258 dwt ore carrier Stellar Eagle was found to have 22 unauthorised modifications.
The inspections were conducted following the loss of Stellar Daisy, which sank during a routine voyage from Brazil to China on 31 March 2017.
The Stellar Daisy tragedy left 22 of its 24 crew members missing and presumed dead. The two survivors claimed that the ship broke in half and sank after listing rapidly to port.
The disaster raised concerns over the safety of Polaris Shipping’s fleet of ore carriers, many of which were converted from single-hull oil tankers that were originally built in the 1990s.
Stellar Eagle was converted from a 1993-built tanker. Among the 22 unauthorised modifications was one made on the bilge well, which collects moisture from the cargo hold.
According to South Korea’s Ship Safety Act, any changes made to the vessel structures require prior approval. However, Polaris Shipping is said to have made the modifications without the required authorisation.
The MOF has ordered that Stellar Eagle be moved to a shipyard in China for remedial action to be carried out, with a re-inspection to be made thereafter.
The ministry has inspected 28 of Polaris Shipping’s vessels. The company scrapped a few ships after structural risks were discovered during inspections.