VLOC Bulk Carrier Stellar Banner Grounded off Ponta da Madeira, Brazil

All 20 crew members have been evacuated from the ship as a precaution.

Now: 60NM NE off Ponta da Madeiro iron ore port (Sao Louis), just after the end of the dredged channel, on Brazil’s 12NM limit. Surrounded by some tugs (at least 3 Smit)

Evening of incident: Sea <2 meters, wind 12 knots NE.

The vessel’s actual draft is given as 21.5 meters.
The depth is there 20 to 28 meters; she could well have hit the bottom by error, or something invisible on the bottom.

Hmm those Stellar VLOC’s really can’t catch a break can they…

Here we go again…

Stellar Banner does not move, nor turn into the wind.
Probably touching the bottom…

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According to news reports, the vessel was intentionally grounded:

Unlike the converted-from-an-oil-tanker Stellar Daisy, Stellar Banner is a fairly new purpose-built VLOC.


Could be there for some time.

The better news is it is a cargo of ore not oil

Bad news is another ship is in trouble, too many for my comfort.


The strange thing is that the ship was damaged while she was sailing outside the fairway! With a ship with a draft of 21 m this is asking for trouble. The hull seemed to be damaged in two places via which water ingress took place. I think that it is unlikely that the cargo has shifted and caused the initial heel.


Often there is a duct keel on the centerline that separates the starboard and port ballast system.

As this is a relatively new ship she probably has a double hull with wingtanks that with the double bottom tanks are connected to the ballast system. The use of double hull in bulk carrier designs have increased rapidly over the last ten years. The wing tanks at the sides are an added advantage, and provide more marginal ballast, and better control on the stability of the ship.

A number of possible configurations.

Perhaps the starboard side of the ballast system filled due to the damaged hull. The estimated total volume of the wingtanks with a tank width of a conservative 1 m could be 225x30x1 m = 6750 ton and that about 27 m out the center line. Of course this is just a theory of what could have happened.

Such a ship should be fitted with a water ingress alarm system for the cargo holds, also a VDR is compulsory for this ship. She is still sending AIS data so at least one motor generator is operational. The crew was evacuated but perhaps a skeleton crew is back on board as there is no immediate danger for sinking or a capsize.

In my first post, I wrote the ship lies outside the channel, but before sending it, I corrected to ‘just after the end of the dredged channel’.

‘Outside’ is ambiguous, is it on the seaside after the channel, or on either side inside the channel. I did not read about the ship having left the fairway along the channel.

This channel is rather long (about 60 miles), with buoys all along.

I tried to find where I got that from. It could have been from this Vale statement:

Vale S.A. (“Vale”) informs that it was made aware by the operator of the vessel MV Stellar Banner that the vessel suffered damage in the bow after leaving the Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal, on Monday night (24), outside the port access channel.

But then ‘outside the port access channel’ is something else then outside the fairway! My mistake then…

gCaptain has a good update of the situation >>>


Does not appear that cargo shifted on first glance. If it did, Human error perhaps again regarding loading approval. If not, being in the wrong spot to navigate to sea. Again perhaps human error. That’s a big effing ship, and quite new. I know very little about bulk ships, but have some idea what makes ships founder.

Polaris Shipping expects salvagers to take weeks to remove the nearly 4,000 tons of bunker oil from the ore carrier “Stellar Banner” stranded in Brazil.

The shipping company has submitted a detailed plan to the Brazilian navy and the environmental agency Ibama to remove the 3500 tons of heavy fuel oil and 140 tons of gas oil from the ship. Weather permitting, this operation can probably be completed in a few weeks.

The actual salvage operation can only begin when the bunker oil has been removed from the ore carrier. This will most likely be a long-term operation, since a substantial part of the nearly 300,000 tonnes of iron ore must probably be removed from the ship. All in all a gigantic, costly and time consuming operation.

Correct. The holds are fully loaded and cargo cannot shift. And even if the hatches are not tight, it doesn’t matter. Any water leaking into the the holds does not change much.

It seems some starboard wing ballast tanks have up-flooded, due to hull leakage for unknown reasons.

The Master is a hero that ran the ship up on a sandbank to prevent capsize and complete sinking.
I look forward to learn about developments.

Salvage/removal? I would close the hull leakage from outside using divers and temporary repairs and then upright and re-float the ship.

One option could be to unload the iron ore. That ship should be able to float with a few wing tanks flooded if there was no other cargo. It’s also fairly new vessel so repairing (instead of scuttling/scrapping) could be a real option.

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No, you cannot unload 290 000 tons of ore from a damaged ship struck on a sandbank, even if you just drop the ore on the sandbank. Easier is to seal the structural hull damage, pump out water to re-float the ship, etc.

I’d still say it’s difficult rather than impossible. The sliding hatches open to the “dry” side of the deck. Of course, noting the size of the stricken vessel, it would take a long time and every day on the sand bank increases the risk of further hull damage.

Perhaps it’s better to patch the holes and tow the ship to port for unloading.

Yes, in the old times we used cement boxes to patch holes in the hull from inside and to keep the ship afloat, but in this case the hole developed to fast to be patched up.
So it is better to do it underwater from outside by divers and then you just pump out the water.

Experts have determined from preliminary reports that the impacted portion of the Stellar Banner has an approximate length of 25 meters near the starboard bow. Divers are still determining the extent of damage to the ship’s hull and any flooded compartments.

Vale reported that based on reports from the shipowner, Polaris Shipping, the vessel suffered damage to its bow in the shipping channel as it departed and the vessel was grounded to prevent it from sinking.