Bangladesh was the top buyer of scrapped ships in the world in the third quarter of 2017, followed by India, according to a study of Brussels-based Shipbreaking Platform.
During the period, 50 scrapped ships were brought to Bangladesh and 44 to India, making South Asia the most preferred destination for scrapping old vessels, which is a hazardous practice for human health and environment.
A total of 227 ships were broken between the months of July and September, 124 of which ended up on the beaches in South Asia, according to the organisation which is a coalition of environmental, human and labour rights organisations.
Greek ship owners sold 11 ships to the beaching yards this quarter, which is the highest, followed by South Korea and Singapore at 6 vessels each. Shipping companies from the US sold 5 vessels.
Singaporean Continental Shipping Line remains the worst corporate dumper, though it currently shares this position with the Greek Anangel Shipping Enterprises and Iran Shipping Lines.
In total, the companies had three vessels each beached in South Asia this quarter.
Bermuda-based Berge Bulk, Greek Costamare, Swedish Holy House Shipping and American SEACOR are close runners-up, with two ships each sold for dirty and dangerous scrapping on the beach.
Brazilian-owned product tanker LOBATO, which was reportedly sold by Petrobras to Indian breakers, ended up on the muddy shores of Chittagong instead, the report said.
Although 33 out of the 124 beached vessels this quarter were European-controlled, only three of these had a European flag when they arrived on the beach.
“All ships sold to the beaching yards pass via the hands of scrap-dealers, also known as cash-buyers, that often re-register and re-flag the vessel on its last voyage,” said the report.
In this regard, flags of convenience, in particular those that are grey- and black-listed, are used by cash-buyers to send ships to the worst breaking locations.
“Almost half of the ships sold to South Asia this quarter changed flag to the grey- and black-listed registries of Comoros, Niue, Palau, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Togo just weeks before hitting the beach.”
The flags are not typically used during the operational life of ships and offer “last voyage registration” discounts.
It is not due to a lack of awareness concerning the dire working conditions that the international ship owners continue to favour in the infamous beaching yards in South Asia, the Shipbreaking Platform said.
“Rather, it is the fact that dirty and dangerous breaking brings in more money.”
There is little or no investment in proper infrastructure to contain pollutants and ensure safe working conditions.
The proper disposal of hazardous wastes is overlooked and the migrant workers exploited, said the Brussels-based organisations.
Moreover, the prices offered for ships this quarter have been high in South Asia, especially when compared to the figures of the first half of the year.
Monsoon rains caused a shortage of local products being available to the domestic steel mills and have, therefore, driven up prices for end-of-life ships, the report added.
Source: hellenic shipping news. 23 October 2017