Is it Cargo Shift that Sank the Cargo Ship Stellar Daisy?


Weird reason missing cargo ship Stellar Daisy may have sunk


The 322 meter long, 266,141 dwt VLOC bulk carrier Stellar Daisy sank in the South Atlantic Ocean some 2000 miles off Montevideo, Uruguay. The Stellar Daisy had departed from Brazil bound for China on March 26 with 24 crew on board.

What happened?

On March 31, one of the crew of the vessel sent out a text message to the shipping company stating the vessel was taking on water and was sinking. Afterwards, the company tried to contact the vessel, but all attempts failed.

Uruguayan Navy and Brazilian authorities were alerted when an emergency satellite signal had been received from the Stellar Daisy. A search and rescue operation was launched in the area of the signal.  Four nearby commercial vessels were asked to assist in search effort while Brazilian Air Force dispatched a fix wing aircraft from Rio de Janeiro.

Oil sheen found:

On April 1, the Uruguayan Navy reported finding an oil sheen and flotsam along with a strong smell of fuel. A short time later two life rafts from the Stellar Daisy were located by one of the commercial vessels. Two of the 24 crew were found inside the lifeboats.  The search continued for the remaining missing 22 crewmen. The Stellar Daisy had six lifeboats on board, two 30-seat lifeboats and four 16-seat lifeboats.

Loss of stability:

Early reports suggest the Stellar Daisy had lost stability and quickly sank. One report suggested the bulk carrier had capsized and sank. Another report suggest a cargo shift could explain the cause of stability. Cargoes like liquefied nickel has been documented to have caused ore bulk carriers to become unbalanced and suddenly sink.

22 crew members missing:

The ship was carrying 24 people, including 14 Filipinos and eight South Koreans. Two Filipino crew members found floating on life rafts were rescued on Saturday and the search continues for the other 22 members .

Did change in iron ore cargo cause this disaster?

Early reports suggest that the Stellar Daisy, which is classified as a Very Large Ore Carrier, lost stability and quickly sank.

Theory proposed:

One theory being floated, is that the ore shifted, causing the vessel to lose balance and capsize.

There have been several documented cases of ships suddenly sinking due to the liquefaction of iron ore and nickel ore during prolonged movement, such as bumping and shaking that occurs in bad weather.

In 2010, three ships loaded with nickel ore sunk in South East Asia, claiming the lives of 44 crewmen.

The deadly spate prompted internationally renowned maritime accident investigator Dr Ken Grant to issue a warning about the chemically volatile cargo.

“Although a cargo may appear to be dry, its core structure may contain sufficient moisture to cause liquefaction,” Dr Grant told The Australian Journal of Mining at the Company of Masters Mariners forum in Melbourne in 2011.

“It does not take much force to produce or induce liquefaction.”

Ill informed decisions:

Dr Grant said the both mariners and law makers were dangerously ill-informed about the properties and behaviour of iron ore and nickel ore.

“It’s not helping make decisions on the ground and liquefaction is very poorly understood and often just totally disregarded,” he said. “People just don’t accept that their cargo is going to liquefy. We need to better understand the properties of nickel ore.”

In 2012, Vietnamese cargo ship Vinalines Queen carrying 23 crew men and 54,000 tonnes of ore vanished without a trace in bad weather off the Philippines.

One crew member was rescued and told investigators the vessel had sunk.

Investigators later concluded that the ore cargo could have been liquefied in the shaking that the ship was subjected to by strong waves and winds.

When it tilted to one side, the liquefied ore could have also gathered on that side and tipped the balance irrevocably, the investigators said.

Investigators said conditions would have been even more perilous in the event crew had failed to close the ship’s hold properly, allowing water brought by high waves to enter and liquefy the ore.

However, the sole survivor of the tragedy, 31-year-old Dau Ngoc Hung, told inspectors that he was in charge of securing the hold and insisted conditions were “normal” before the ship sank.

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Source: News


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