Search begins in South Atlantic to retrieve sunken ship's black box

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2019-02-08 10:42 Updated : 2019-02-08 10:42
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Courtesy of Stellar Daisy family member's task force team]

SEOUL -- Seabed Constructor, a multipurpose offshore vessel involved in high-profile wreck searches, embarked on an undersea search this week to find the wreck and voyage data recorder of a South Korean bulk carrier that sank two years ago off the coast of Uruguay with a full load of Brazilian iron ore.

The vessel chartered by Ocean Infinity, a seabed exploration company based in Houston, is to leave the South African port of Cape Town on Friday for a government-funded operation worth 4.84 billion won ($4.3 million) that would last for up to 50 days, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

Ocean Infinity was involved in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in early 2018. In November of the same year, Seabed Constructor located the wreck of Argentinian submarine ARA San Juan, which had disappeared a year earlier.

Stellar Daisy, a very large ore carrier (VLOC) owned by Polaris Shipping based in the southern port city of Busan, sank on March 31, 2017, on a voyage from Brazil to China. Two Filipino seamen were rescued, but 22 others including 14 Filipinos and eight South Koreans, remain missing.

Relatives of the missing crew members want the recovery of Stellar Daisy's black box, insisting Polaris officials should be punished for operating old cargo ships illegally. The company runs 19 ore carriers converted from oil tankers. Several other Polaris vessels including Stellar Unicorn have reported hull cracks. 
Stellar Unicorn, a VLOC built in 1993 as an oil tanker and converted to an ore carrier in China in 2008, has been sold for scrap. 
In January, a court in Busan approved the arrest of a former Polaris official for covering up deficiencies in Stellar Unicorn. Coastguard investigators have accused Polaris CEO Kim Wan-joong and other officials of illegally modifying vessels or forging documents, but Kim was not arrested as the court decided to wait for Seabed Constructor's findings.