As hopes dim in the search for 22 missing crewmembers of the ore carrier Stellar Daisy, which broke up and sank on March 31, the IMO and Intercargo have called for a thorough investigation so that future casualties can be prevented.
"It is expected that there will be a full investigation into this accident and that the results and findings will be brought to IMO so that we can do whatever may be necessary to reduce the chances of such an incident happening again," said IMO secretary general Kitack Lim in a statement. "Thankfully these occurrences are rare; but when they do happen, they serve to remind everyone that the seafarers, on whom we all depend, do a difficult and sometimes dangerous job; and that those of us responsible for making the industry safer can never stop striving for improvements.”
The missing crew include eight South Korean nationals and 14 Philippine seafarers. First responders found evidence of the Daisy's sinking, including fuel, debris and lifeboats, and they rescued two survivors from the scene.
The International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO) issued a statement Thursday calling for the timely completion of an investigation, "as a means to identify the causes of the incident and enable corrective actions to be taken." It called on the vessel's flag state, class society and P&I club to work together to produce a report as quickly as possible.
As the Daisy went down in deep water some 2000 nm from shore, the full story of her loss may never be established. Possible factors could include cargo liquefaction – iron ore fines are a Group A cargo – and repeated stresses on the vessel's hull. A few facts are known: first, the shipowner received a message from the crew shortly before the Daisy sank reporting that she was taking on water and listing rapidly. Second, the survivors told authorities that the hull cracked before the ship went down. Investigators may also be able to learn more about the Daisy from comparable vessels: Splash24/7 reports that the Stellar Unicorn (exname Musashi Spirit), another converted tanker belonging to the same owner, has recently taken refuge at Cape Town for unspecified repairs.
The 1993-built Daisy started life as the single-hulled crude tanker Sunrise III. In the late 2000s, single-hulled tankers were being phased out in favor of double-hull designs, and a Korean bulker firm bought the Sunrise and several other VLCCs for conversion to ore carriers. The demand for Capesize bulkers was high at the time, and the conversions were common enough that Steamship Mutual published a guide to the process.
Typically, converted VLCCs like the Daisy were fitted to utilize the center tanks as cargo holds, with the side tanks left empty or used for ballast. A heavy-duty double bottom would be built into the center tanks to take the high loads imposed by the iron ore cargo, and the hull framing would be reinforced and modified. On deck, hatch covers and coamings would be added to each tank. All in all, the net change would increase the vessel's lightship displacement by about 4,500 tonnes.