March 11 ------ The plan to remove oil from the listing bulk carrier Stellar Banner has been approved and the operation is scheduled to be launched on March 12, according to the latest update from the Brazilian Navy. The decision to wait for a couple of more days has been ascribed to the ongoing weather conditions at the site. The navy said that there is a need for constant monitoring and assessment of sea conditions by the salvage companies hired for the job, those being Ardent and OceanPact, before the complex operation can start. Final adjustments for the undertaking are said to be underway.
A navy helicopter flew over the wreck site on Monday morning, determining that there were no traces of oil and that there were no major changes to the ship’s tilting. The fuel tanks of the giant ore carrier remain intact as they are located on the stern of the vessel, on the opposite side of the damaged area, the ship’s owner Polaris Shipping said earlier. Several vessels are at the site providing support to the salvage operation and standing by to contain any oil leakage. These include offshore supply ship Iguatemi and Hydroceanographic Ship Garnier Sampaio, four vessels from the Port of Maranhao and several vessels with oil containment materials on board. A helicopter and a drone with a thermal camera are also deployed to the mission. Brazilian miner Vale said earlier that the stricken bulker has been surrounded by a 200 m barrier made of buoys suitable to contain oil in the sea.
To remind, the giant ore carrier ran aground and developed a heavy on February 24, 2020, some 100 kilometers off the coast of São Luís, in the state of Maranhão, Brazil. The ore carrier experienced bow damage that led to its grounding. The ship was on its way out of the access channel of Ponta da Madeira maritime terminal, heading to Qingdao, China, loaded with 275,000 tons of iron ore. The 20 crew members were evacuated from the vessel and there were no reported injuries to the crew.