Debunkering begins on grounded VLOC Stellar Banner

The Marshall Islands-flagged VLOC Stellar Banner after it had run aground off northern Brazil on February 24, 2020 (Photo: Vale)

A joint effort has begun to remove over 3,500 tonnes of fuel oil from a very large ore carrier (VLOC) that ran aground in Brazilian waters late last month.

Dutch companies Ardent and Smit Salvage are the lead organisations in the debunkering of the Marshall Islands-flagged Stellar Banner, which has remained stranded in shallow waters after it had departed the Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal in northern Brazil on the night (local time) of February 24.

The vessels involved in the actual debunkering include an oil spill response vessel from Brazilian firm OceanPact, the ALP Maritime Services anchor handling vessel ALP Defender, and a receiving vessel into which the recovered bunker will be pumped.

An official of the Brazilian Navy clarified that no actual oil spills have been detected from the VLOC though a number of support vessels, including two oil recovery vessels mobilised by Petrobras, are on standby in the area should cleanup and containment become necessary. In the meantime, a 200-metre buoy barrier has been set up around the grounded vessel as a precautionary measure.

Owned by South Korea’s Polaris Shipping, Stellar Banner is currently chartered to Vale for the transport of Brazilian iron ore to China.

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