Did conversion contribute to loss of Stellar Daisy?
The loss of the VLOC Stellar Daisy with just two crew having been rescued and 22 missing is a tragedy but while first thoughts must be with the families of the lost men, the incident should not be seen as the latest in a long line of bulk carrier losses as there are very different factors at play. The exact cause of the loss of the vessel has yet to be determined although it has been reported that the owners did receive a communication from the vessel saying that it was taking water on board and listing to port. Stellar Daisy was originally built in 1993 and might be considered as a candidate for the type of fatigue damage not uncommon in ore carriers of a similar vintage were it not for the fact that the ship did not begin life as a bulk carrier. The ship was built as a tanker and by Mitsubishi Nagasaki in Japan but fell foul of the accelerated phase out of single hull tankers and was sold to its present owners for conversion to a VLOC at the end of 2006. Stellar Daisy was one of four tankers purchased by Polaris for conversion to VLOCs at a time when Chinese ore imports were growing rapidly. Polaris was not alone in its conversion strategy as several dozen surplus tankers were acquired by a variety of owners for the same reason. Unlike some of the more rapid conversions of tankers into VLOCs that were carried at the time, that of Stellar Daisy took around two years. Ordinarily a conversion would add several years to the life of a vessel but there were a number of questions raised at the time about potential problems with such conversions. These centred on concerns over hull strength and the ability of the ship to handle the large loadings imposed on the bottom plating by ore cargoes. While the overall cargo weight would be much the same as when trading as a tanker, the much greater density of ore cargoes meant that this would be concentrated over a smaller area of the vessel. Some of the other conversions have since been broken up but the loss of Stellar Daisy should sound some alarm bells over others that are still operational.