The 190 meter long, 56559 dwt bulk carrier Star Centaurus (listed as D. Centaurus) ran aground in Limenes Bay off Crete. The Star Centaurus was en route to Suez from Morocco with 57,000 tons of fertilizer on board. The bulk carrier struck bottom in the bay and was unable to free itself. Tugs were dispatched to the scene while authorities placed booms around the vessel to capture any pollution released. The tugs were able to pull the Star Centaurus free and tow it to a nearby anchorage.
Authorities have detained the vessel while they conduct an investigation. No reports of injuries or pollution released.
The 229 meter long, 92828 dwt bulk carrier Kydonia ran around on the Paraná River near San Nicolas, Argentina. The Kydonia departed from San Lorenzo with a partial cargo of soy beans when it ran aground. The bulk carrier was unable to free itself and requested assistance. Two tugs were dispatched and pulled free a few hours later. The Kydonia was towed upstream where it will be inspected. No reports of injuries, damage or pollution released. Reports state the Paraná River water level remains low making it difficult for vessels to navigate.
After three months being aground off the coast of Brazil, the bulk carrier Stellar Banner was refloated and towed off the sand bar. The tugs towed the ore carrier a short distance to deeper water where the vessel was scuttled.
After grounding in February 2020, salvage efforts took several months to remove nearly all of the 145,000 tons of iron ore and all the fuel oil on board the Stellar Banner. All the fuel had been offloaded by April and 140,000 tons of iron ore was removed by June 2 leaving only a few thousand tons in the holds. An initial inspection had found the bulk carrier had sustained a 25 meter long breach. After the Stellar Banner was refloated, another inspection was conducted by divers and an ROV. Details of the inspection have not been released, but authorities determined the Stellar Banner a total loss and ordered the 4 year old vessel to be towed away and sunk. Brazilian Navy will have a pollution response were on scene in case any pollution was released during the sinking.
Commentary: Are there design limits for a VLOC?
Back in February 2020, there had been reports the vessel had sustained several cracks and structural damage. Like many of her sister ships, the Stellar Banner size and design may have made it vulnerable to structural failures. Thus any minor grounding would result in structural damage and eliminate any attempts to tow the vessel to a shipyard for repairs.
There have been many documented cases of design failures that plagued sister ships. In 1892, the SS Western Reserve and SS W. H. Gilcher sank in the Great Lakes. Both vessels were one of the first to be built with steel. Reports determine the steel used had too much phosphorus and sulfur making the steel brittle. There was only one single survivor between both vessels. With ore carriers, the lost of the Derbyshire in 1980 and her sister ship Kowloon Bridge in 1986 prompted the further investigations of possible structure flaws in both vessels construction. In last few years, there have been multiple structural failures with vessels (see list below) tied to Vale S. A. operations. Is there a common connection between the vessels?
List of recent VLOC incidents tied to Vale S.A.:
Vale Beijing sustains structural damage during loading in 2011
Vale Indonesia runs aground on 2013 and sustains hull damage in 2013.