24 October 2015

Three hurt workers die in port city:

Inspectors find lack of safety measures at the yard; owners yet to comply to show cause notice; victims yet to be compensated

Three ship-breaking workers, who were injured in a gas-tank explosion at RA Ship-breaking Yard in Chittagong's Sitakunda upazila on October 13, died at Chittagong Medical College Hospital on October 18 and October 19.

The dead were Md Russell, 20, his cousin Md Khairul, 22, both of Magura, and Md Alamgir, 35.

Russell's brother said they were yet to get any compensation from the owner.

The owners, despite getting a show cause notice from the department of inspection for factories and establishment on October 15, have not respond yet, said the department's officials who found a lack of safety measures at the yard.

Sitakunda police filed a case against the owners and manager.

Source: The Daily Star. 22 October 2015

ACI presents profitable ship recycling strategies:

Belgium: ACI's third annual Ship Recycling Summit on 2 and 3 December will shine a light on what to do with a vessel at the end of its lifecycle and how to get the best price for scrapping or selling it in the most sustainable way possible.

The event will take place in Brussels, Belgium, and will provide stakeholders with an update on the 'essential' developments facing the industry, such as the implications of the new EU Ship Recycling Regulations and the impact of the Hong Kong Convention.

ACI notes that joining this year’s Summit will allow all participants to develop profitable business strategies that are customised to the ship recycling sector to help reach the best results in a 'globally challenging legal environment'.

ACI contact: Mado Lampropoulou
Phone: +44 (0) 203 141 0607 / quoting MSR3D10

For more information, visit:

Source: recycling international. 23 October 2015

20 October 2015

Final Voyages:

In his first solo in India, Dhaka-based Shumon Ahmed highlights the haunting world of ship-breaking yards.

STEEPED in melancholy, Shumon Ahmed’s photographic prints of the ship-breaking industry in the Chittagong district’s Baro Aulia have an undeniable impact. The broken and rusted ruins of once-imposing freighters and tankers have a haunting quality which is beautifully captured in the deliberate imperfections of Ahmed’s works. “Mistakes are beautiful. The imperfections in the work have helped me communicate the sense of loss that I felt each time I visited this place,” says the Dhaka-based artist, as he oversees the setting up of his first solo exhibition, “When Dead Ships Travel”, in India. The show at Colaba’s Project 88 will be on till November 7.

When Ahmed first visited Baro Aulia, he hadn’t expected to be so moved. “In 2009, I was accompanying a Swedish photographer, who wanted to photograph the place. I had only taken along two cameras,” he recalls, “I ended up borrowing my friend’s Hasselblad to take pictures of what I saw, because I felt like my own cameras were unable to capture what I was feeling.” He returned to the scene later, and went on to take pictures that would form the series Metal Graves.

To Ahmed, a photography graduate from Dhaka’s South Asian Media Academy, the idea of using analog photography grew organically, as his engagement with the subject deepened.When he revisited Baro Aulia this year, to continue exploring the idea that had begun with Metal Graves, he was armed with six cameras, including analog cameras such as a panoramic pinhole, paper pinhole (made by Ahmed himself), two different Polaroid cameras, a Diana with three different lenses and a Rolliflex. Similarly, he also used a variety of film such as Kodak 100 VS, Kodak 400 VC colour film, and Agfa 100 to 400 ISO. He explains that the idea was to have an “adventure”, because using plastic-bodied cameras and old film increased the possibility of happy accidents like light leaks, blurring and sepia tones. “We can use digital photography and tools like Photoshop to make our photographs more ‘perfect’, but there’s no drama or surprise there. For me, the excitement in photography comes from not being able to predict what the final images will look like,” he says.

These technical choices that Ahmed made thus end up accurately reflecting the decay and desolation of the ship-breaking yard. In When Dead Ships Travel 6, for instance, he used the Diana camera with a 120 Agfa black-and-white film to shoot the shoreline. The result is a blurred, ghostly effect that conveys the photographer’s view of the ship-breaking yard, as suggested by the title. Similarly, in When Dead Ships Travel 5, Ahmed uses a panoramic pinhole camera to present a wide view of the desolation of Baro Aulia. The vignetting around the edges and the shaky, blurred outlines evoke the haziness of memories and nightmares.

This may not be the end of his photographic exploration of the shoreline along the Chittagong district. “I discovered a market near the ship-breaking yard that sells objects rescued from the ships. I found it fascinating how these objects are getting a second life, even as the ships wait to be broken down,” Ahmed says. Another place he wants to re-visit is the St Martin’s island, the only coral island in Bangladesh, that is a part of the Chittagong district. . “The island suggests what the shores must have been like before the ship-breaking industry grew there. I want to explore the vast difference between the two places.”

Source: Indian express. 20 October 2015

Alang ship breakers slip with the rupee:

Alang ship breakers slip with the rupee

Two-thirds of units close in 2 years with firms saying they're handicapped in bidding competitively abroad

There are concerns amid caretakers, workers and even bankers on Alang, till recently world's largest site for breaking up and disposing old ships. Work has dwindled substantially and daily wages have declined from Rs 350 in better times to Rs 250.

A branch manager of a public sector bank says he doesn't have much to do, except for dealing with pestering co-workers who are seeking a half day's leave. His workload has halved in recent years.

Alang, 60 km away from Bhavnagar city, was developed by the Gujarat government in 1982. At the time, 46 plots for ship breaking were active and this gradually rose to 170 plots, of which 135 were owned by ship breakers and 35 were with the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB). Ships from 3,000 tonnes upward came for dismantling; the biggest one, a few years earlier, was 85,000 tonnes.

However, in the past two years, 100-odd units have closed; a little over 30 remain. An estimated 25,000 workers of an earlier workforce of about 35,000 have left for their hometowns in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand. The remaining ones are working for half a day.

Mohan, who is from Jharkhand, said, "We have no choice but to wait. There is no job for us in our hometown and we are staying here so that we can earn something. However, it is not sufficient to maintain a family."

What is causing this situation is the rupee's devaluation against the dollar in recent years. This had reduced shipbreakers' global competitiveness in bidding for shipbreak contracts. The rupee is down from Rs 55 to a dollar in 2013 to Rs 65.19 in 2015 (as on Tuesday), down 18.5 per cent.

As a result, the numbers of ships arriving at Alang for breaking have fallen from 40-45 a month around two years earlier to 15-20 a month. As against 212 ships during January to August in 2014, the period this year saw 143 arrived for breaking. "We have to pay more in rupee terms to buy ships. And, fluctuation in the rate against the dollar has restricted us from taking risks (ship breakers pay the money over a six-month period)," said Ramesh Mendpara, vice-president of the Ship Recycling Industries Association of India (SRIA). Bangladesh and Pakistan are bidding at better prices as their currencies have not devalued much against the dollar.

Also, there is lower demand for steel and this is hurting re-rolling mills. Ramesh Aggarwal, director of Hooghly Shipbreakers and secretary of SRIA, said: "Demand for ship scrap from steel re-rolling mills is very dull because of the weak steel market in India. Around three per cent of total steel consumption of India comes from ship scrap."

According to industry sources, cheaper exports by China has affected most in the industry. "We are mainly dependent on the real estate and infrastructure industries, and both are not doing well. Imported steel from China at Mumbai port costs Rs 26,000 a tonne, while Indian steel is Rs 32,000 a tonne." said Haresh Patel, president, Sihor Steel Re-rolling Mills' Association.

At site
A branch manager of a leading public sector bank at Trapaj village in this region said, "We have many accounts of workers here. They usually use it for transferring funds to their family in the hometown. Transactions of late have declined by 50-60 per cent, as many workers have left." Many labourers stay at Trapaj, around three km from Alang.

The Ship Recycling Industries Association of India says it is trying to convince ship breakers to hedge the rupee's value on a bank letter of credit. Says Aggarwal, "It will help us to reduce losses. Most ship breakers have agreed (to consider doing so)."

Living conditions of the labourers are appalling. Most pass the night at the workplace or live in tents by the roadside. A labourer has to go miles to avail even basic medical facility.

Alang ship breakers slip with the rupee

A supervisor of a plot said, "We need to take workers to Bhavnagar, 60 km away from here, in a medical emergency. Connecting roads are not good, which creates more trouble." A primary health centre is about three km from Alang.

Those in the industry say they plan to construct a housing colony at Alang, with GMB. The state government has allotted land within the breaking yard where a housing colony for 1,000 workers will be built by SRIA and GMB. It will cost Rs 20 crore, of which 55 per cent will come from the industry.

"Apart from daily wages, we are giving medical expenses and provident fund to our workers," claimed Aggarwal.

Source: business standard. 18 October 2015

Ranking second: 11 German ships have been beached to South Asian breakers:

Brussels – Out of 166 vessels sold for breaking during the third quarter 2015, 78 ended their operational life on the beaches of South Asia, according to the data collected and analysed by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform (38 ships in India; 26 ships in Bangladesh; and 14 ships in Pakistan). The data clearly shows a downturn within the ship breaking sector if compared to previous quarters’ statistics.

16 of the ships broken in South Asia were owned by European ship owners, including one from Norway. Greek owners topped the list selling alone 9 ships for beaching this quarter. Ranking second, German owners sold 3 ships to South Asian breakers, which means that so far 11 German ships have been beached this year. Italian owners rank third, with 2 vessels sold to India.

Most European shipping companies continue choosing profit above the environment and workers’ rights. The Italian company Grimaldi Group S.p.A. (1 ship to India) again features on the NGO`s list of worst dumpers. German ship owners Ost-West-Handel und Schiffahrt GmbH and F.H. Bertling Reederei GmbH also sold vessels to Bangladesh and India this quarter.

Polish state-owned Polsteam has been under the spotlight for having sent several ships to South Asia in the last years. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform and the European Environmental Bureau, and the more than 160 environmental, human and labour rights organisations they represent, together with two Polish NGOs, recently sent a letter to Polsteam asking the company, and the government, to change its bad practices. Polsteam has already sold three end-of-life vessels to South Asian beaching yards in 2015; the bulk carrier Solidarnosc was sold to Pakistan breakers during this quarter.

Despite the new EU Ship Recycling Regulation, which will out-rule the use of substandard beaching yards to dismantle EU-flagged vessels and which will soon become applicable, ships registered under the flags of Malta (3), Italy (1), and Sweden (1) were sold in this quarter to substandard yards operating on beaches.

Chinese ship owners sold 29 ships to Chinese yards, but another 4 ships owned by Chinese companies were sold to South Asian yards. Moreover, one Turkish company sent one of its ships to Alang yards instead of having it broken domestically at Aliaga.

Source: recycling portal. 19 October 2015

19 October 2015

A graveyard goes silent

The beach at Alang has been carved out into 167 plots or breaking yards of various sizes, of which 131 have been allotted to ship-breaking firms. 

For years, ageing liners and cruise ships have queued up at Alang, where they would be dismantled and sold for scrap. That’s changing.

Not everyone has a window by the sea. Kiran Gandhi has one so he looks out every few minutes at the waves crashing into the beach and says it wasn’t always this way. “Until a few years ago, it was difficult to spot the beach or the sea.

It used to be full of ships,” he says, sipping tea at the office of Shree Ram Group of Industries, a shipbreaking firm in Alang. Gandhi, one of the directors of the firm, looks on as labourers armed with gas torches and sledge hammers cut down a lone ship beached in his yard No 9. “By this time last year, we had broken six ships. This year, we are only breaking the third one,” he says.

Alang shipyard, Ship scrap, Kiran Gandhi, Old ships, ships graveyard, Alang shipyard, Shree Ram Group, Big Pictrure, The indian Express

The unhindered view of the sea and the sun on the horizon are signs that all is not well at Alang, considered the world’s largest graveyard of ships. Not too long ago, this 10-kilometre stretch along the coast of Alang, a town in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, used to be lined up with old and decommissioned ships. These were ships that once rode the high seas, but past their prime, they end up on the shores of Alang, where workers with blowtorches and hammers strip it of steel and other accessories. But now, the oil-soaked beach looks almost barren, with only a few ships dotting the horizon, their rusted anchors and chains the only reminders of a beach that once brought down hulks.

Alang, with a capacity to dismantle 450 ships annually, handled 415 ships in 2011-12. That’s the highest number of vessels to have beached since 1983, when the first vessel, MV Kota Tenjong, arrived in Alang to be dismantled. The number of ships docking at Alang has steadily fallen since then and last year, it touched 275, a six-year low. Between April to September this year, only 97 ships have arrived; 157 ships arrived in the same period last year.

The beach at Alang has been carved out into 167 plots or breaking yards of various sizes, of which 131 have been allotted to ship-breaking firms. Over 70 per cent of these 167 plots, where over 6,900 old ships have been broken and recycled in the last three decades, have either shut down or have run out of business. The 40 plots that remain open operate with a third of the 20,000 workforce that once used to power this labour-intensive shipbreaking yard.

Alang shipyard, Ship scrap, Kiran Gandhi, Old ships, ships graveyard, Alang shipyard, Shree Ram Group, Big Pictrure, The indian Express

“The plots have been closing down as the owners have stopped buying ships. It’s just becoming unviable,” says Captain Sudhir Chadha, a port officer from the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and one of the seniormost state government representatives at Alang.

So why aren’t more ships docking at Alang? The combined pressure of cheap Chinese steel making its way into India, devaluation of the rupee and the slowdown in the infrastructure sector seem to be taking their toll on the business at Alang, where 70 per cent of a ship is broken down into re-rollable scrap than that’s then converted into bars and rods for the construction sector.

Alang shipyard, Ship scrap, Kiran Gandhi, Old ships, ships graveyard, Alang shipyard, Shree Ram Group, Big Pictrure, The indian Express 

“With Chinese steel making its way into the Indian market, the prices have fallen. A tonne of scrap from Alang used to sell at Rs 27,000 last year. Today the prices are as low as Rs 18,000 for a tonne. The downturn in the infrastructure and construction sector, which used to be a major consumer of our steel, has also affected us. Thirdly, the devaluation of the rupee against the dollar makes it difficult for ship buyers to predict the payment price of the ship since the deal happens over several months. This has made business unviable. With losses mounting, shipbreakers have stopped purchasing ships,” says Rakesh Gupta, director of Priya Blue, a shipbreaking unit whose revenues have “been hit hard”.

The road that connects Alang to the nearby Sosiya village separates the shipbreaking yards, all secured by iron gates and CCTV cameras, from the workers’ quarters. The sound of sledge hammers on metal dulls as you move away from the yards to the labour colony. The empty and abandoned shanties that line the dingy lanes of this settlement tell the story of a dying industry.

Alang shipyard, Ship scrap, Kiran Gandhi, Old ships, ships graveyard, Alang shipyard, Shree Ram Group, Big Pictrure, The indian Express 

With a few minutes left for 7 am, Tara Singh, 35, a crane operator on one of the plots, is rushing to get to work. His is from Chatra in Jharkhand and has been in Alang for a few years now. But now, he fears he will end up like many of his colleagues who have lost their jobs and returned home. His 10×10 feet hut is made of wood salvaged from ships, the roof is a thin metal sheet weighed down by stones to prevent strong winds from blowing it away. Most labourers sleep on wooden boards or pieces of discarded ship furniture. But Singh is lucky to have retrieved a folding camp cot from a ship.

“Back in my village, I have three children, a wife and two old parents to whom I send Rs 7,000 every month. I pay a rent of Rs 700 a month to the plot owner for this shanty. The ship on our plot will take two more months to be broken down. Once that gets over, I too will have to head home,” says Singh as he quickly parts his wet hair with a comb, slips on a pair of shoes and rushes to work.

By now, most of the workers have left for the yard. Ram Prakash Chauhan, 45, is among the few who haven’t left. “I lost my job,” he says. For the last 15 years, Chauhan has been working at Alang as a gas cutter. He will have to soon leave for Gorakhpur, his home. “I started off earning Rs 40 a day. Today I earn Rs 300. Yesterday, a few of us lost our jobs after we finished breaking the ship on our plot. The owner said he wasn’t getting any new ships. For the next three days, I will look for jobs in other plots. If I don’t find one, I will go home. It has never been this bad here,” says Chauhan.

Alang shipyard, Ship scrap, Kiran Gandhi, Old ships, ships graveyard, Alang shipyard, Shree Ram Group, Big Pictrure, The indian Express

Alang’s labour-intensive industry drives the demand for unskilled and semi-skilled workers from states such as Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. The workers are almost all men who have left their wives and children back in their villages. Though the working conditions are tough and even hazardous – around 56 workers have died since 2010 in accidents, mainly from fires on ships – for many, it’s the only way to keep their homes fires burning. But that’s changing.

“Most of us are paid Rs 240 a day for eight hours of work. My earnings used to easily cross Rs 300 with 6-7 hours of overtime. But now, with less work, we hardly get to work overtime,” says 22-year-old Ranjan Goud, who came to Alang a couple of years ago from Odisha in search of work.

“We used to have a workforce of 20,000. Now, hardly 5,000-6,000 people work here. The slowdown in the industry began several months ago and the effects are now showing,” says Chaddha of the Gujarat Maritime Board.

The Board, which manages and runs the basic infrastructure at Alang, is building an organised labour colony for 1,000 workers. This “dormitory type of colony”, says Chaddha, will be extended to accommodate 5,000 workers if the pilot project is successful.
The Board has seen its revenues from Alang dip by 50 per cent – from the Rs 36 crore that the body earned last fiscal to Rs 18 crore.

All is not lost, though. Some shipbreakers say that as the economy gets back into shape, the usual buzz will return to Alang, sooner or later.

Gupta, the director of Priya Blue, believes that as long as there are ships to be broken, Alang will remain relevant. He dismisses fears of shipbreaking moving from Alang to other such yards, including the facility proposed by the Adani Group, adjacent to its existing Mundra West Port in Kutch district. “Mundra or any other spot in India cannot replace Alang. With a beach that has a 15-degree slope and a high inter-tidal gradient, Alang has a natural advantage. This enables large ships to come straight into the shore during high tide and when the tide recedes, the ship stands on an almost dry dock. Secondly, the beach is sandy and ship doesn’t sink into the mud,” he says.


Besides, Gupta says, Alang is geographically well-placed to carry ship-breaking right though the year. With its 10-km-long coast facing the Gulf of Khambhat, it is sheltered from high-velocity winds and heavy rainfall. In contrast, other ship-breaking destinations such as Gaddani in Pakistan and Chittagong in Bangladesh have strong winds and strong tides and therefore, can only demolish very large vessels.

The road from Ahmedabad to Bhavnagar bifurcates near Trapaj village, where a blue-and-white arch welcomes visitors to the Alang-Sosiya shipbreaking yard. Winding its way through the village before opening into the ‘Alang Bazaar’, rows of shops on either side that sell everything that the ships once held.

Alang’s ship-breaking supports an entire ancillary industry of furniture, knick-knacks and memorabilia that go by the brand ‘Alang’. Apart from the metal scrap sold from the ships, these 350-odd shops sells ropes, inflatable dinghies, beacons, foreign cosmetics, compasses, board games, paintings, wooden furniture, crockery, cutlery, and even bathroom and bedroom furnishings, dismantled from passenger and cargo ships.

Raju Baradiya, who runs his Amar Traders opposite Alang Police Station, from where he sells different items salvaged from ships, says, “We used to have at least 10 customers visiting us every week to buy items such as stainless steel tables, ovens, storage cabinets, coffee makers and dish-washers. Now the number of visitors has reduced to half, as fewer ships are coming to Alang. Business has been affected.”
It’s definitely a big fall from 2008, when the 9,000-tonne American casino liner, ‘Texas Treasure’, arrived in Alang. When the white luxury ship beached on the Arabian Sea, shoppers made a beeline for the Alang shore. As the Texas was broken down, typical casino ware such as slot machines and roulettes lay strewn about the yard and stores and shoppers took home handsome wine goblets, bars, and other trinkets that were otherwise prohibitive or unavailable in Gujarat markets. Furniture bought from Alang is seen as “high value”, given its weather-beaten wood and steel.

Ahmedabad-based Amit Panchal, a Gujarat High Court lawyer, calls himself an “avid Alang shopper”. “I haven’t gone to the shipyard in the last 2-3 years. But for 12 years before that, I would go to Alang regularly and buy crockery, comforters, even safes,” he says.

In his office is a wooden coat hanger, a 3×6 metre tricolour flag and a small brass model of a ship he bought for Rs 3,000 – some of the souvenirs he holds on to for his “back in the days in Alang” moment.

Source: Indian express. 18 December 2015

17 October 2015

ASF’s visit to R.L.Kalthia Ship Breaking

Asian Shipowners’ Forum members together estimate to control about fifty percentage of the merchant fleet. ASF consists of eight members from the shipowners’ associations of Asia Pacific nations, i.e. Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Federation of ASEAN Shipowners’ Associations, consisting of Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


The Asian Shipowners’ Forum’s Ship Recycling Committee is a forum for members to exchange views on the international trends in ship recycling industry and ship recycling regulations. The objective of the committee is to share information on developments of regulations and ship recycling capacity and to voice the Asian view in order to ensure environment-friendly yards in as many countries as possible for economic and stable ship recycling in a timely manner.

Noting that India has high potential to ensure required capacity of environment-friendly yards for economic and stable ship recycling, ASF SRC welcomed Ship Recycling Industries Association (India) attendance for the first time in its 18th Interim Meeting of the ASF Ship Recycling Committee, held in Singapore on 23 March 2015. The SRC members were firmly committed to ensure full compliance with all applicable competition laws, it was emphasised that appropriate actions be taken to enable international society to properly understand the current state of Alang-type green ship recycling in view of increasingly negative campaigns against recycling method commonly used in Indian sub-continent.
The Ship Recycling Committee Members of Asian Shipowners’ Forum visited R.L. Kalthia Ship Breaking Private Limited on October 14, 2015 and reviewed the latest development of level of operations and facilities. R.L.Kalthia Ship Breaking Private Limited is quite concerned about the movement in theEuropean Commission to exclude recycling yards in certain regions due to an eventual prohibition of particular recycling method.


The committee also confirmed that any unilaterally-imposed regional regulation could not be a final solution to ensure prevalence of green ship recycling worldwide as long as regulations do not consider common practices in major ship recycling countries. In this context, ASF SRC reconfirmed its long-standing policy that the Hong Kong Convention is the best solution as a practical measure to enhance safety and environmental protection for recycling.

ASF’s SRC,  working in cooperation with other maritime organisations, agreed to continue to urge the  European Commission to develop realistic guidelines to be aligned with the HKC to explore not a partial solution but a final solution for worldwide green ship recycling. At the same time, it was recommended that shipowners should assess and select ship recycling yards in harmony with the Hong Kong Convention for demolition of their fleets.

Source: Asian Shipowners’ Forum. 15 October 2015

Alang breakers’ certification fuels flooring debate

ClassNK's recent certification of two shipbreaking yards in Alang has drawn flak from recycling watchdogs, which question the effectiveness of the yards' use of impermeable flooring.

While the Japanese classification society told IHS Maritime that impermeable flooring is a "key" criterion for breakers to gain its compliance certification, activists claim the shipyards' methods fail to adequately safeguard against pollution.

Last month, ClassNK issued certificates to RL Kalthia Ship Breaking and Priya Blue Industries that confirm they are "in line with the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 [HKC]", according to the class society.

Yet environment advocates argue the two yards present pollution risks because their impermeable flooring is only on the upper part of the beach, not where ship cutting is carried out.

Ingvild Jenssen, founder and policy advisor for activist group NGO Shipbreaking Platform, told IHS Maritime that ship recycling in Alang is carried out on an "intertidal zone which is not cemented/impermeable and where cut-off steel blocks are allowed to fall before being winched up to the secondary cutting zone".

While acknowledging that cut-off blocks "can fall within the ship structure, thus the hull is used as impermeable flooring", Jenssen claimed "the first blocks are not able to fall within the ship" so would fall onto the beach.

She also criticised the "gravity method" as "a dangerous practice that should be replaced by the use of cranes to lift the cut-off blocks".

Answering this concern, Leopold said: “Yes, the gravity method can be dangerous if not properly executed and the workers are not following the safety guidelines, as implemented into the SRFP (Ship Recycling Facility Plan). [But] there is no technical reason to condemn the gravity method, quite the contrary, it can be more dangerous to move heavy swinging parts with cranes in heights, if not properly executed.”

ClassNK said that under the HKC, ship recycling facilities (SRFs) can prevent harmful spills or emissions in intertidal zones from dirty blocks and equipment "by covering the workspace with impermeable flooring and installing a drainage system which has sufficient capacity to handle hazardous materials with proper procedure and operation".

"Thus, impermeable flooring was one of the key conditions ClassNK examined before issuing statements of compliance to the two SRFs in India," said the class society.

Spokespeople for the two yards confirmed to IHS Maritime via email that the yards use the "gravity method" and that the blocks are then lifted to the area of the beach covered with impermeable flooring.

But Gerd Leopold, a spokesperson for Priya Blue, said the company applies methods that prevent pollution.

"It is of utmost importance to follow the guidelines, issued by ClassNK, to be in line with safety standards and to avoid any kind of pollution," said Leopold, commenting on behalf of Priya Blue director Sanjay Mehta.

"The blocks are cleaned properly before cutting. Then the block falls into the ship. Subsequently further cleaning is done. Thereafter the blocks are cut into small parts and then by the help of cranes blocks are shifted to the impermeable flooring [Second Cutting Zone] for further cutting."

Leopold added that the yard would be "willing" to invest in a large crane and shift from the gravity method, if this were made possible through greater investment from shipowners.

But he emphasised that this purchase would only be on the basis that “using a higher carrying capacity would increase the productivity” of the yard.

He added that only "a very small group of owners" are considering "green recycling at the highest international standards" and are willing to accept a lower price to deliver to a green yard.

Chintan Kalthia, of RL Kalthia Ship Breaking, similarly explained that blocks "cut from the sides of the ships are falling into the ships" but some "clean" blocks "fall in the sand or the sea".

"Only clean blocks are allowed to be dropped in the inter-tidal zone", from where they "are winched on[to] shore before high tide", he said.

Kalthia also claimed this practice presents no risks of pollution. "The soil samples have not shown concentrations which are of concern," he said.

He added that ships sent for recycling "have mostly not so much paint left on the underwater hull, as all anti-fouling coatings are abrasive and ships keep releasing them during normal operations. Ships are usually not sold for recycling with freshly applied anti-foulings".

Leopold is keen for the recycling method of these two ClassNK/Hong Kong Convention compliant yards to be known as "intertidal landing" rather than "beaching", which he views as having "negative connotations".

The vital issue is "whether the vessel itself is safely secured and the environment is protected against any kind of pollution", he added. At Priya Blue, the vessel is secured by chains tied to winches on the yard, said Leopold.

"The vessel will be recycled strictly in line with the SRFP [Ship Recycling Facility Plan], which means all tanks are emptied, all liquids removed, even before the cutting starts," he said.

"This will be checked from local authorities before they give cutting permission."

Before intertidal landing, oil booms are tied around the vessel so they can be lowered to trap any spillage, he added.

"The leading yards at Alang have invested in the future, without any support, in order to be certified to work in compliance with the Hong Kong Convention and fulfil future requirements," said Leopold.

Yet Jenssen said the "true test" of whether the yards in Alang operate in a safe and environmentally sound manner is "whether they will pass the EU test for approval to be listed on the upcoming EU list of ship-recycling facilities".

Source: ihsmaritime360. 15 October 2015

NGO Shipbreaking Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #7

Brussels, 16 October 2015 - The NGO Shipbreaking Platform publishes today the seventh South Asia Quarterly Update, a briefing paper in which it informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of vessels broken on the beaches of South Asia, accidents, recent on-the-ground, legislative and political developments including our activities in South Asia we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights.

In this edition you can read about the Pakistan government’s plans to clean up Gadani; that two Indian yards have received certification from a Japanese classification society for being compliant with the requirements of the Hong Kong Convention; and that the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association has adopted a position against substandard shipbreaking practices. 166 large commercial vessels were sold for breaking in the third quarter of 2015, 78 of these were beached in South Asia. Three major accidents due to gas explosions killed five workers and severely injured ten, bringing the total death toll this year in Bangladesh to 12. 

Source: NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

15 October 2015

Ship breakers pledge to improve working environment at shipyards:

IMO, NORAD stress training, knowledge-sharing

CHITTAGONG, Oct 11: A team of experts from the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) and NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Corporation) has laid emphasis on more training and experience-sharing in the ship-recycling industry.

The IMO and NORAD experts held a meeting with office- bearers of Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association (BSBA) on Saturday and exchanged views on training of the workers in the ship-breaking and recycling industry in Chittagong and improvement of working atmosphere in the ship-recycling yards.

Safe and environmentally-sound ship-recycling in Bangladesh Phase-1 is already under implementation in the ship-recycling yards of Chittagong with financial support from the Norwegian donor agency, NORAD.

Welcoming the expert delegation in Chittagong, the BSBA president MA Taher said the ship breaking and yard-owners have already set up an institute for workers' training, where foreign experts in the field are providing training. The BSBA will soon start medical services through the BSBA Hospital, he said.

Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Industries and national project director of the SENSREC Yasmeen Sultana said the government is determined to improve the ship-breaking and recycling industry atmosphere.

 "The yard owners should engage properly trained personnel in the yard and maintain compliance," she said.

Associate Professor of World Maritime University Professor Captain Raphael Baumler said the rapidly- expanding Bangladesh ship-breaking industry must share its experience and knowledge with those working in the field in the external world.

This consortium of the IMO and NORAD has been established to achieve that objective, he said.

He emphasised the safety, protection and development of the ship-recycling sector.

Besides, the industry owners should abide by the rules of the government of Bangladesh and meet the global challenges.

German expert Henning Gramann observed that proper training should be given to the workers as per Hong Kong Convention for development of the sector.

The expert from Turkey Professor Gokdeniz Neser shared his experience in Turkish ship-recycling sector, while Indian expert Dharmesh Zani gave a brief description of how he is training the Bangladeshi workers in the ship-recycling sector.

Vice president of the BSBA Amjad Hossain Chowdhury promised to work in collaboration with the IMO and NORAD for the improvement of working atmosphere in the shipyards.

BSBA executive member Md Salauddin, NUM Jahangir Chowdhury, Md Lokman, Ashikur Rahman Laskar, member Jahangir Alam Chowdhury also spoke on the occasion. The meeting decided to open a website of the BSBA.

Director of Environment in Chittagong Md Moqbul Hossain, Bangladesh Marine Academy (BMA) Commandant Sajid Hossain, chief of nautical studies Captain Kazi ABM Shamim, Associate Professor of CU Economics department Md Nurun Nabi, BUET Professor Dr. MM Golam Zakaria, engineer of HR Ship Management Ltd Mahbubur Rahman and chief captain of BSBA Training Institute SM Moula were present in the meeting.

Source: the financial express. 12 October 2015

Navy shouldn't be so hasty in scrapping its warships

I FIND the letters and articles by Michael Burt very interesting and informative. In his letter of September 30 he questions the premature scrapping of so many of the Royal Navy ships so soon after decommissioning, and I am sure many people echo his views on the severe reduction of the Royal Navy.

Some of these ships have a lot of useful life left in them, all be it in a reduced combat role, but would be expensive to keep on the trot in maintenance and manpower. Even so we would still have them to upgrade if an emergency arose.

I have an undated picture of an unnamed cruiser leaving Plymouth Sound. It has an air defence radar which dates it to late 1950s or 1960s. Using Janes Fighting Ships and the internet I believe it to be HNLMS De Ruyter, pennant number C801, but I cannot confirm it. The keel of this ship was laid down in 1939 at Schiedam near Rotterdam, but due to the German occupation was not launched until 1944, finally being put into commission by the Dutch Navy in 1953 with Home Port at Dan Helder. In 1973 after a period of modernisation she was sold to Peru and renamed Admirante Grau. This ship is still in commission with the Peruvian Navy, the last gun cruiser in any navy in the world, although useless in conflict due to being so obsolete.

The point I make is that ships can have an extended life and this Cruiser proves it. I think she deserves to be preserved somewhere when finally decommissioned. I hope readers find this of interest.

Source: Plymouth herald. 12 October 2015

Compensation demanded for Chittagong ship-breaking yard accident victims:

Ship-breaking Workers Trade Union Forum yesterday demanded Tk 10 lakh in compensation for each of the eight victim families which either had lost or got their members injured in a gas cylinder explosion at Shital Enterprise Ship-breaking yard on September 5.

At a press conference in Chittagong city, Convener of the forum Tapan Dutta mentioned that four workers died, one is still fighting for life in a hospital while the other three were brought back to the shed from hospitals without full treatment.

The owner paid a nominal amount only to the families of the dead, said the convener, threatening to wage tougher movement if the compensations are not paid to the eight families in next seven days.

Source: the daily star. 15 October 2015

12 October 2015

Nonprofit launches campaign to save President Truman’s floating White House from the scrap heap:

Built in Maine, the USS Williamsburg sits rusting in an Italian shipyard, and may be scrapped within weeks unless $40 million is raised through Kickstarter.

Two history buffs are waging a “last-last-ditch,” $40 million campaign to save a Maine-built yacht that was President Harry S. Truman’s “seagoing White House” in hopes of restoring the ship as a symbol of American diplomacy.

After serving as a private yacht, a Navy gunboat, Truman’s refuge and a research vessel, the former USS Williamsburg may take its final voyage to the scrap heap in a matter of weeks. The only hope is a legitimate offer to save the Bath Iron Works-built ship that once hosted world leaders, but now sits rusting and partly submerged at a shipyard in Italy.

With no buyer on the horizon, two former White House staffers are turning to the public for help via a $40 million fundraising plea through the crowdsourcing website Kickstarter. If successful – and that’s an aircraft carrier-sized “if,” given the tight deadline – the pair said their nonprofit would contract to restore the ship for use once again as the presidential yacht or donate it to a museum, potentially in Maine. If not, the Italian shipyard where the Williamsburg has sat abandoned for two decades could begin scrapping the 244-foot ship this month.

“This is a labor of love and probably an improbable quest of love, but it was worth a try,” said Peter Lord, a Maine native who studied maritime history at Bowdoin College and now lives in Washington, D.C. “If we can show that we have a viable (fundraising) event, then that will buy us some time. But if it is not possible, I fully expect them to continue moving on scrapping of the ship.”

The USS Williamsburg sits rusting and partly submerged at a shipyard in Italy. Photo courtesy of Navalmare shipyard. 

As of Friday evening, the campaign had garnered just 11 pledges totaling $20,545. That left $39,979,455 to raise by Oct. 27 if Lord and Rob Knake, the other co-founder of the Save the Williamsburg nonprofit, are to meet their 30-day Kickstarter goal.

“The time is really driven by the fact that the boat is sitting in the water rusting and will be scrapped by the Italian government if this campaign is not successful in late fall or early winter,” Knake said. “Either it will take off in the next 20 days or it won’t, and a longer period won’t help.”

Lord and Knake began talking about sparing the Williamsburg from the scrapper last year after reading news reports about the ship’s plight while the two were working together on national security and cybersecurity issues at the White House. Lord was struck by the symbolism of the yacht, which Truman used extensively throughout his administration for both personal and official business, and was distressed to see a Maine-built ship with so much history headed for demolition. He called the campaign “our last ‘Hail Mary.'”

“Wouldn’t it be great if the American people could get behind something from American history and give us a new tool for American diplomacy?” Lord said.

And so began either the latest or the last chapter in the Williamsburg’s storied life.

The ship actually began as the Aras II, a 244-foot luxury yacht built for the son of Hugh Chisholm Sr., an industry magnate and part-time Maine resident who built one of the world’s largest paper and forest products companies. The ship was launched at BIW on Jan. 15, 1931, and came in “the final twilight of the gilded age of yachting,” author Ralph Snow wrote in his book “Bath Iron Works: The First Hundred Years.”

The Aras proved more than seaworthy and served Hugh Chisholm Jr. for a decade. The Navy purchased her as part of the mass militarization of domestic ships during World War II. The renamed USS Williamsburg gunboat spent the war escorting other ships, shuttling VIPs and serving as the flagship for the Navy admiral in charge of training for the Atlantic fleet.


Truman, seeing the gunboat’s potential, had the Williamsburg converted into his presidential yacht after the war. It was a time of dramatic changes as Truman grappled with domestic issues as well as the reconstruction of Europe, the Korean War and the emerging U.S.-Soviet arms race. He regularly used the ship as his second office to escape the physical heat and political pressure of Washington, for vacations and for weekend getaways.

“I do not know of any easy way to be President,” Truman wrote in his memoir, “Years of Trial and Hope,” published in 1956. “It is more than a full-time job, and the relaxations are few. I used the Presidential yacht, as well as the Little White House at Key West, less for holiday uses than as hideaways, and they were very useful when I wanted to catch up on my work and needed an opportunity to consult with my staff without interruptions.”

In an August 1949 article, The New York Times described the Williamsburg as “a slim white boat, a beauty to look at but not always comfortable on a choppy sea.”

“Apparently Mr. Truman thinks a great deal of his 244-foot craft,” the article continued. “He has prepared some important messages aboard and has spent New Year’s Day on it every year he has been in office except in 1948. The craft is sometimes used for Presidential receptions such as those given for the Governor’s of the Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Puerto Rico during Presidential cruises. Winston Churchill was once a guest on the yacht.”

Churchill was apparently impressed with his visit.

“At the table at the end of the evening, (Churchill) said to the president that of all the meetings which he had attended in his career as prime minister with his American colleagues, he had never attended one in which he thought the atmosphere was so conducive to close and cordial relations between the two countries as the one upon the Williamsburg,” Truman’s secretary of state, Dean Acheson, wrote in a memo about the meeting maintained by the University of Wisconsin.


The Williamsburg was converted into an oceanographic research vessel after Truman’s successor, President Dwight Eisenhower, decommissioned the ship in 1953, but it was badly damaged while in dry dock in the 1960s. Several groups ran the ship as a floating restaurant in Washington, D.C., and New Jersey, yet it gradually fell into disrepair.

Art Girard, a Portland resident and business investor, came close to purchasing the Williamsburg roughly 20 years ago. The deal fell through, however, because the ship was tied up in a complicated bankruptcy.

“We were thinking of bringing it back to Maine,” Girard said Thursday. “When we looked at it, it was a restaurant. But it wasn’t in that bad condition, otherwise we wouldn’t have thought of bringing it back here.”

In the early 1990s, the Williamsburg was transferred to a shipyard in Italy by a group planning to convert the vessel into a luxury cruise liner. That project went bankrupt as well, and ownership of the ship eventually transferred to the Navalmare shipyard in La Spezia.

Time has pretty much run out for the “ghost ship” Williamsburg, its hull severely eaten by rust and its interior largely gutted. Stefano Pitton, commercial director at Navalmare, said in an email that the shipyard presented its demolition plan to the local port authority last week and could receive authorization next week.

“After two days of yard preparation we will commence with the cutting of the superstructures and then we will continue with the hull,” Pitton wrote. “We waited for more (than) twenty years, now that the ship sank, really we do not have more time. If there are (individuals) interested in the restoration of the USS Williamsburg, please tell to him to contact me very shortly.”

Knake and Lord are working with an international yacht broker who handled a previous effort to sell the ship. They also have a restoration firm in mind that has developed plans for the Williamsburg. And if this unlikely campaign succeeded and the federal government wasn’t interested in the boat, Lord said his initial preference would be to donate it to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, located just downriver from the ship’s birthplace at BIW.

“So really this is a last-minute SOS to save the vessel,” Knake said.

Source: press herald. 10 October 2015