Seatrade reports that a European-owned vessel is in the US for shipbreaking. International Shipbreaking Limited (ISL) has invested a lot in bringing shipbreaking yards up to international standards for compliance with shipbreaking rules.
It’s a great advance to have compliant yards available and ready to recycle ships.
The abuse of labor in third-world ship recycling facilities is well known. True, it’s not perceived there as abuse. But the absence of safety standards for ship recycling workers, and payment by piece work, encourages unsafe behavior, and also unsustainable behavior by shipowners. These should stop. The EU regulation is a good first move, and having a place to do it is valuable.
Perhaps the next step is to have complaint yards for recycling empty containers in importing nations. Since it’s more expensive to ship them back than to buy new ones in China, it makes sense to salvage the metal here and also do away with the storage problem.
The lifetime of a ship is roughly 20 years, before it is no longer economical to repair it. And technology advances may make a ship obsolete before that. So when no one wants it, what happens?
Used ships are sold to salvage brokers, who arrange for them to be disposed of for the value of steel they contain. As you probably know, used steel is an important additive to make new steel. And some of the plates and members have some use in other projects. Shipbreakers take on theships from the brokers, and cut them up.
In the US and EU, this is done in dry docks, with careful supervision. But another way to do it is to drive the ship onshore in Bangladesh, where a horde of workers armed with torches and so on cuts it up. Accidents are likely to happen.
Last quarter lots of accidents happened. Read the article.
The NGO tracking the deaths thinks the ship broker shold stop dealing with Bangladeshi operations that are not properly regulated. Perhaps that broker should be boycotted by those selling ships.
Another view is that Bangladesh is a poor country and this type of operation provides work and income for people who otherwise would have no jobs. But that doesn’t make the job safe.
A fascinating, heartfelt article about shipbreaking at Alang. Students of Labor Economics and unions should read it, especially the last part.
ShippingWatch visits one of the most controversial places in the shipping industry, India’s shipbreaking facilities on the beaches of Alang. After banning this location, Maersk has changed its mind and now sends end-of-life vessels to Alang. See all the pictures here from an otherwise very closed-off workplace. – Author: GRETCHEN PEDERSEN