South Korean Polaris Shipping, which was in the center of media attention after several of its converted bulkers reported hull deficiencies last year, has been found to have made 22 unauthorized modifications to one of its ships.
Namely, a special ship inspection conducted by the South Korean Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries, carried out on board the Stellar Eagle, determined that there were 22 modifications in the ship’s cargo hold structure which were not approved.
Under the South Korean Ship Safety Act, the owner of the ship is required to request approval of all changes to the vessel structure prior to their implementation.
The 1993-built Stellar Eagle was converted from a tanker to an ore carrier, the same as the ill-fated Stellar Daisy, which split in half and sank in March 2017 claiming the lives of 22 of 24 crew members on board.
The outdated bulker had split in half following a hull crack causing the subsequent sinking of the bulk carrier. Just a few days after the incident, Polaris Shipping confirmed that another of the firm’s vessels reported a crack on the outer hull of a tank.
As a result, the company said that it had launched inspection of all its operated vessels.
Following the latest survey findings, the company was ordered to move the Capesize ship to China to conduct corrective measures, which will be inspected by the ministry once completed.
Furthermore, the ministry said that it would inspect other vessels of the type to check for the potential existence of similar deficiencies on other converted vessels.
So far, 28 ships pertaining to Polaris Shipping have been inspected by the ministry, with some of them ordered to be demolished after being surveyed due to structural faults.
Separately, South Korean families of the missing crew members of Stellar Daisy are calling on the authorities to continue the search and rescue operation for the missing seafarers.
The South Korean ship was carrying eight South Korean and sixteen Filipino sailors, when it sank in the South Atlantic, some 3,700 kilometers off Uruguay.
Two Filipino sailors were rescued on April 1, while the remaining 22 crew members remain missing and are presumed dead.