Reports state the Stella Banner had struck bottom when it exited the port of Ponta da Madeira, Brazil resulting in hull cracks and breaches near the bow. The Stella Banner struck a shallow area near buoy 1 in the São Marcos Bay channel. Authorities say over 5,000 tons of seawater has ingress into the vessel’s cargo holds.
Reports state the company Ardent Global was contracted to create a salvage plan. The hopes were to have any salvage begin as soon as possible. The Navy has reported the ore carrier is still releasing diesel fuel / fuel oil into the water. The Navy has dispatched a tug with dispersants to help mitigate the pollution released. Vale has also reached out to Petrobras for help containing the pollution.
On February 24, the 340 meter long, 300,660 dwt bulk ore carrier Stellar Banner ran aground in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Maranhão, Brasil. The 4 year old ore carrier had departed from the Vale terminal Ponta da Madeira in São Luís, Brasil loaded with iron ore bound for Qingado, China. The Stellar Banner only traveled a short distance when vessel developed a sharp list to starboard. An inspection by the crew found the ore carrier had hull cracks and water ingress into the cargo holds. The crew alerted authorities who dispatched multiple tugs to the scene. As the list increased on the vessel, the master of the Stellar Banner decided to run the ore carrier aground rather than risk it sinking. The Stellar Banner was later ran aground on a sandbar some 100 kilometers offshore. The 20 crew on board were evacuated off the Stellar Banner. No reports of injuries.
Authorities state an oil sheen was seen around the hull of the Stellar Banner. A response vessel was dispatched to manage the released pollution. Vessel owners, port authorities and the Navy have teams in the area trying to develop a salvage plan. No details yet reported if the Stellar Banner can be salvaged without the iron ore cargo being lightered beforehand. Some reports state there is additional hull damage near the bow suggesting that the vessel may have struck bottom or an object when it left port.
This isn’t the first VLOC, very large ore carrier, to sustain hull failure after cargo loading. In 2011, the Vale Beijing sustained cracks in the ship’s ballast tanks. The Stellar Unicorn and Stellar Queen also sustained hull cracks. The VLOC Stellar Daisy foundered in March 2017 with the lost of all hands possibly due to improper cargo handling.
The 120 meter long self-propelled tanker-barge Pampero ran aground on the Rhône at the locks in Sablons, France. The Pampero was en route to Lavera from Port de Bouc with a cargo of 2200 tons of vinyl chloride. As the tanker-barge proceeded out of the lock, it was pull back by suction towards the lock gate . Unable to overcome the current, the Pampero struck the downstream lock gate ripping the lock gate away. The Pampero struck with enough force to have its wheelhouse torn away and part of the hull buckled. The tanker-barge floated a short distance from the lock before it ran aground.
Authorities were alerted and dispatched some 70 persons to the scene. The Pampero had sustained three hull breaches releasing some of the toxic gas. Reports state the amount of gas released was low, but some nearby residents were evacuated as a precaution. Divers later arrived on scene and complete repairs and plug the leaks. Another tanker-barge was requested to offload the 2200 tons of cargo. Traffic on the Rhône remains closed above and below the lock until repairs to the lock and tanker-barge can be completed. No reports of injuries.