Cracks Found on Another Polaris VLOC

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  • As South Korea’s Big Three Return to The Scene

Cracks have been found aboard another Polaris Shipping-operated very large ore carrier (VLOC), the 1994-built Stellar Queen, following an inspection of the ship which was conducted in Sao Luis, Brazil.

A representative of Holman Fenwick Willan Singapore LLP, speaking on the authority of the ship’s operator told World Maritime News that “two small cracks” were found on the Stellar Queen’s deck.

The cracks “have been inspected by Port State Control and by Class and repairs are underway,” the representative added.

Featuring 304,850 dwt, the VLOC is currently anchored off the coast of Brazil. According to AIS data provided by MarineTraffic, the vessel is scheduled to start its journey to Changdao in China on June 27.

The discovery was made on the back of the March 31 disappearance of Stellar Daisy, which prompted the South Korean ship operator to launch a special program for immediate inspection of all vessels currently operated.

The 266,100 dwt vessel went missing and is believed to have sunk some 1,700 miles east of the Port of Montevideo, Uruguay. The ship was sailing from the Port of Guaiba, Brazil, to China, carrying 260,003 million tons of iron ore. The 1993-built Stellar Daisy was carrying eight South Korean and sixteen Filipino sailors. Two of the sailors were rescued on April 2.

The ship was converted from a crude carrier to an ore carrier, a process that has been put under spotlight as it is believed that a crack in the ship’s hull caused the splitting in half and sinking of Stellar Daisy.

In mid-April, the company informed that one of the firm’s vessels reported a crack on the outer hull of a tank while it was en route to the discharge port, near Cape Town. The vessel in question is the 1993-built bulk carrier Stellar Unicorn, which was carrying a cargo of 270,000 million tons iron ore bound for China at the time. The ship was also converted from a crude carrier to an ore carrier.

In the meantime, South Korean big three shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) have so far this year made a major comeback as owners rushed to avail of attractive VLCC prices.

Namely, John Fredriksen-controlled tanker shipping company Frontline has allegedly ordered two VLCCs from HHI which are scheduled for delivery in July 2019. The contract worth USD 320 million also includes an option for the construction of two more ships, according to Yonhap News Agency.

In January, crude oil tanker company DHT Holdings placed an order for two VLCCs at HHI.

What is more, HHI received in February an order for the construction of two 300,000-ton VLCCs from Greek shipowner Enesel.

Another Greek shipping company, Neda Maritime, ordered a 319,000 dwt VLCC from HHI.

HHI has reportedly won orders to construct nine VLCCs so far in 2017.

Additionally, SHI has also entered into an letter of intent (LOI) with an unidentified Greek shipping firm to build up to eight VLCCs, with the value of the contract estimated at USD 650 million. The firm that ordered the vessels is likely to be Capital Maritime and Trading, VesselsValue’s data shows. The quartet is expected to be delivered to Capital by the end of 2019.

BW Group has placed an order for four VLCCs at SHI with a contract value of USD 334.8 million.

The third shipbuilder, DSME, has inked a deal with Greek shipping company Maran Tankers to build three VLCCs. Furthermore, DSME signed a letter of intent with compatriot carrier Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) to construct up to ten VLCCs.

Separately, Yonhap reported that South Korean shipyards surpassed their Chinese rivals in April. Referring to Clarkson Research Institute’s data, Yonhap informed that Korean yards won orders worth a combined 340,000 compensated gross tons (CGTs) to build twelve ships during the month. On the other hand, yards in China received in April orders estimated at 260,000 CGTs to construct 13 vessels.

The recovery comes following a turmoil in the shipbuilding industry from last year that pushed major shipbuilders to restructuring and cost saving measures.

World Maritime News 

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