Calls grow for Stellar Daisy investigation
Dry bulk trade organisation Intercargo issued a stamen today saying it is deeply concerned at the tragic loss of the VLOC Stellar Daisy. Echoing sentiments made by IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim, Intercargo’s statement said ‘our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the seafarers. As long as there is still hope, our wishes are for the missing officers and crew to be found and the loss of life in this sad event to be minimised, as only two of them have been rescued so far, and reportedly 22 still missing. The statement also expressed concern about the non-availability of sufficient SAR capabilities in the vicinity of busy shipping lanes around the world and encouraged the Flag State and all stakeholders (e.g. Classification Society and P&I Club) involved in this regretful event to be mobilised swiftly and cooperate fully, in order to submit as quickly as possible to IMO a thorough and quality report investigating its causes. Lessons need to be learnt promptly after maritime casualties. Several reports have linked the loss of the vessel to a possible case of liquefaction of the cargo but while a number of vessels have been lost for this reason, any liquefaction should not have been calamitous for the Stellar Daisy as its cargo holds were originally only the centre tanks of the vessel in its for incarnation as a VLCC. Because of its configuration, any cargo movement would be limited to the centre third of the vessel’s cross section making capsize unlikely. ShipInsight believes that most likely the loss of the vessel was linked to its conversion, not least because of the concerns raised at the safety risks posed by such conversions, several of which took place between 2007 and 2012. The Stellar Daisy was subjected to a PSC inspection in Tianjin China in early February when two deficiencies relating to water/weathertight conditions were noted along with one relating to MARPOL Annex VI pollution prevention and three others linked to crew conditions. Another converted VLCC, Stellar Unicorn (converted 2012/13) of the same vintage and belonging to the same owner has this week made an unscheduled stop in Cape Town reportedly for repairs. Stellar Unicorn was also found to have structural and water/weathertight deficiencies in a PSC inspection in Qingdao, China in July last year but has since undergone another PSC inspection where no problems were recorded. Polaris owns several other converted VLCCs in its VLOC fleet but is not the only owner of such vessels. Presumably all will be carrying out safety checks on their vessels.