Peril on the sea

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THE Stellar Daisy wasn’t quite halfway across the southern Atlantic when her crew heard a loud bang and the ship suddenly began listing badly. Jose Cabrahan grabbed a life jacket and an immersion suit designed to keep him alive in cold water and headed from the deck to the bridge. There he found the third officer sending a mayday transmission. Before he could do anything else, water began to pour in and Cabrahan jumped into the ocean.

By the time he resurfaced, alone, the ship had disappeared. He found a life raft and eventually another member of the crew, and after 24 hours they were picked up by a ship. Despite a wide-ranging search, the other 22 men on board weren’t found.

The Stellar Daisy had been carrying 260,000 tonnes of iron ore from Brazil to China. At 320 metres long, it was classified as a very large ore carrier (VLOC), the largest type of ship that transports metal ore. Ships like this aren’t supposed to sink – certainly not in reasonably calm seas like the ones the Stellar Daisy was traversing on 31 March 2017. At the moment, there is no certainty, just tantalising clues, as to what did for the Stellar Daisy. But posing the question takes us to the heart of one of the planet’s most important industries – one that, it turns out, is in the middle of the roughest squall it has seen in decades.

Read the rest of this story at New Scientist here (£).

Additional reporting by Sandra Speares.

Photo: Stuart Rankin, flickr