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Deviation from planned route led to Stellar Banner grounding

The grounding of a very large ore carrier soon after loading a cargo of iron ore from Brazil in February last year was caused by a deviation from the planned route, according to the casualty report

The report issued by the Marshall Islands also identified lack of communication between bridge crew, which meant the new route had not been plotted on electronic or paper charts

THE very large ore carrier that grounded soon after loading a cargo of iron ore from Ponta da Madeira in Brazil in February in the past year deviated from its planned route, according to the very serious incident casualty report.

The report, issued by the Marshall Islands, found that the master of the 2016-built Stellar Banner (IMO: 9726803), which was carrying  294,871 tonnes of iron ore, had not communicated the new route to the rest of the crew. It was also not questioned by relieving crew.

“The apparent lack of information sharing between the master and the officer-on-watch prevented them from having good overall situational awareness regarding where the ship was, where it was heading, and whether it was approaching any potential hazards to navigation.”

The vessel, which was bound for Qingdao in China with an expected arrival in early April, was about 40 minutes delayed in departing due to the late arrival of the pilots, with the ship's drafts no more than 21.5m. That was also almost 50 minutes after low tide.

The passage plan was not updated.

The master had managed the route 10 times before and so “should have known” the tide would be falling when the vessel approached the seaward end of the buoyed channel, it said.

The deviation passed within 1 nm of a 20m shoal which was based on limited hydrographic information. Correction factors had not been adequately considered. The vessel, owned by Polaris Shipping of South Korea, suffered hull damage and flooding in multiple voids and water ballast tanks.

It was declared a total constructive loss in June last year, after about 145,000 tonnes of the cargo was removed.

The report listed several preventive actions, including a revision of the company's safety management systems, which require masters to conduct safety navigation briefings with any change of course to be approved by shore-based staff.

The company, which has also issued operational guidance for this particular section, will be installing 11 closed circuit television cameras on all its vessels. 

Accident reports are not designed to apportion blame.

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