Often, when vessels capsizes, there is not enough time to say “Oh, f*&k”. Stellar Daisy, a 24-year old Very Large Ore Carrier vanished with minutes of sending a standard daily report. At this time, only two of the ship’s 24 officers and crew have been found alive. Two empty lifeboats and a liferaft, ship’s debris and surface fuel oil are reported to have been found in the vicinity of her last known position. SAR efforts continue with the help of four merchant vessels.
The vessel was carrying iron ore from Brazil to China when it disappeared at about 02.52 GMT, 11.53 local time, on 31 March some 350 nautical north-west off Tristan Da Cunha reportedly under fine weather conditions.
It is understood that liquefaction played a key role in the capsize, investigations are at a very early stage but the suddenness of the disappearance, the lack of survivors and the empty LSAs are typical of liquefaction-induced capsize. Port State Control examinations suggest that the 24-year-old vessel had a fairly clean bill of health with no detentions although Chinese PSC authorities identified two deficiencies related to water-tight doors, which investigators will be studying.
Liquefaction is the phenomenon by which, under certain circumstances, a dry bulk cargo typically an ore, and often iron ore fines, behaves like a liquid. When the vessel rolls to one side the liquefied cargo moves to the lower side of the vessel, then lock in place as a mass, producing a list. An opposite roll can re-liquefy the cargo. One may have as little as 90 seconds to identify and mitigate the problem before it becomes irrecoverable.