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Another converted ore carrier develops cracks

09 May 2017 12:39 (+01:00 GMT)
Another converted ore carrier develops cracks

London, 9 May (Argus) — The very large ore carrier (VLOC) Stellar Queen has been delayed from departing Ponta da Madeira, Brazil, after two hull cracks were discovered on the upper deck.

South Korean shipping firm Polaris owns the vessel, which is a conversion from a very large crude carrier (VLCC) like the Stellar Daisy. The latter vessel sank on 31 March off the coast of Uruguay.

The cracks were discovered on the Stellar Queen before loading and a survey was carried out by the Korean Register of Shipping, which is responsible for the vessel along with the Stellar Daisy.

The vessel was cleared to proceed and loaded 296,302t of iron ore belonging to Brazilian producer Vale at Ponta Da Madeira on 3-7 May. But Polaris decided to delay the voyage and wait for a more detailed survey that will be carried out on 11 May in conjunction with the Korean Register of Shipping and various other authorities followed by any necessary repair works.

This is the third vessel of a similar type — single-hull VLCC built in the early 1990s and converted to a bulk carrier in 2008-10 — to develop problems in the past six weeks. The first was the Stellar Daisy, while cracks were subsequently discovered on the [Stellar Unicorn](https://direct.argusmedia.com/newsandanalysis/article/1439498).

Polaris and the Korean Register of Shipping have created checks for crews on similar ships to carry out and have undertaken repairs or strengthening work where necessary, the company said. The Stellar Hermes has undergone strengthening work and similar measures may be carried out on the Stellar Queen.

There are 50 single-hull VLCC conversions on the water. The majority of these are under 10-year charter agreements to Vale and were converted in 2008-10, which means that the charter agreements are expected to conclude over the next couple of years. Most of the vessels were built around 1992-94, which would make them around 25 years old when the agreements expire — above the current average age of 21.5 years at which standard Capesize vessels are scrapped.

Charterers prefer newer vessels and it is unlikely that many will look to book these VLCC conversions.

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