11 January 2018

Scrapyard or museum? After 10 years, still no firm plans for former Mayport carrier USS JFK

It’s been 10 years since the Navy decommissioned the USS John F. Kennedy and left Mayport Naval Station without an aircraft carrier for the first time in years.

Now it looks like it’s facing the same fate as the Kennedy’s predecessor, the USS Saratoga, headed for a scrapyard instead of being turned into a museum to preserve its historical significance.

The Navy recently removed the Kennedy from the list of ships earmarked for donation despite efforts in New England to display the vessel permanently.

But the same group that tried to turn the Saratoga into a museum is still making a push to change the Navy’s mind, and another group is ready to jump in if they don’t’ succeed.

“It’s not unusual for ships to move in and out of donation status as long as there is a viable option in place,” said Frank Lennon, president of the USS John F. Kennedy Project in Rhode Island. “Dismantling and scrapping a ship is a very involved process.”

He said usually when one door closes, another opens. But because the Kennedy is the last conventionally powered aircraft carrier available, there won’t be anymore opportunities for a carrier museum if the Navy decides to go through with dismantlement.

Every operational carrier in the fleet is now nuclear powered, which means they will have to be gutted once they are decommissioned to remove the nuclear reactors. Once that happens there’s no chance of salvaging the vessel to be used as a museum, Lennon said.

Lennon spearheaded the effort to turn the Saratoga into a museum in Rhode Island for about 12 years before that door closed, so then he pivoted his efforts to the Kennedy.

“In 2010 the Navy decided to scrap the Saratoga due to the deterioration of the ship,” Lennon said. “They decided it was not feasible to operate as a public attraction.”

Lennon said the Kennedy has a long way to go before it looks like the Saratoga did when that decision was made.

The Navy decommissioned the Kennedy at Mayport in March 2007, and later that year it was moved to Philadelphia where it’s been ever since.

Former Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter advised the congressional defense committee chairmen in 2008 of his decision to make the Kennedy available for donation, said Colleen O’Rourke, a spokeswoman for Naval Sea Systems Command.

But she said this year that changed.

“The ship was maintained in that status until 2017 when the chief of naval operations notified the secretary of the Navy that CV 67 [USS John F. Kennedy] was being re-designated from donation to dismantlement due to the lack of a viable donation application,” O’Rourke said.

She would not comment on what would have to happen to bring the ship back into donation status and declined to say how long it would take to move forward with dismantlement.

But Lennon’s group isn’t the only contingent interested in preserving the Kennedy.

“They’ve got a lot of power, a lot of good will and a lot of direction, but they lack a site,” said Richard Fitzgerald. “They just don’t have a place to put the JFK.”

Fitzgerald is the leader of a group in Maine that would like to turn the Kennedy into a museum in Portland Harbor. He said it’s a relevant location because it’s the only place the carrier visited on two separate occasions — in 1987 and 1989 — and it played a significant role in World War II when hundreds of ships spent time in the harbor.

Both the Maine and Rhode Island groups made their cases for the Kennedy when it was originally offered as a possible museum, Fitzgerald said, but the Rhode Island group had a much bigger head start because members had worked so hard pursuing the Saratoga.

“We could see the writing on the wall that we were stuck without being able to do what we wanted to do,” Fitzgerald said.

So they agreed to yield to the Rhode Island group to give them a chance to finish what they started.

“They had the lead,” Fitzgerald said. “They had been working on it for 12 years, but when it’s our turn we will be able to take it over.”

Bob Haner is the head of the Kennedy’s crew association, and he’s worked with both Lennon and Fitzgerald over the years.

Both groups have backing from their local governments, but they said the ship’s former commanding officers have a lot more pull with the Navy.

“The bottom line with us in the crew association is we want to save our ship,” Haner said. “Whether it’s in Rhode Island or in Portland, Maine, we just want to save the ship no matter where it’s at.”

He said his concern is that the Navy made an agreement in 2011 when Maine backed out that if the Rhode Island group could not come up with a viable plan, the Navy would reopen the bidding process.

“We just have to see if the Navy is willing to live up to that commitment,” Haner said.

He said if the Navy opens the sweepstakes back up again, any city is welcome to make a presentation — including Jacksonville, where the destroyer USS Adams is set to arrive next year for a museum.

The difference in size between the Adams and Kennedy means it would take a lot more money and a lot more space to bring the larger ship to Jacksonville, Haner said, but anything is possible given the right financial backing.

“Saving a ship is a hard process, it costs a lot of money and you really need a lot of big money people to get anything done,” Haner said.

He said he’s gotten a lot of calls from former crew members since the Navy changed the ship’s designation asking what they can do to stop the dismantlement process. Haner said his message to crew members is to be patient.

The holiday season is a tough time to get answers from Navy officials, he said, so he’s waiting to hear more about the ship’s status before he can advise crew members further.

“I’ve had a lot of my JFK sailors asking me if they should write their congressmen, but I’ve been telling them let’s see where the Navy stands before we do anything,” Haner said.

Lennon said he won’t stop fighting to turn the ship into a museum until the day it is towed to the scrapyard.

He said he isn’t backing away from the fact that his group is struggling to find a berthing location in Rhode Island that will be able to accommodate a carrier museum. Without getting into specifics, he said there are serious negotiations to pin down a place place to dock the ship.

Once that deal is done, he said, the Navy will have no choice but to move the ship back into donation status. But it will take anywhere from $20 million to $60 million to complete the project no matter where it goes.

Haner and Fitzgerald agreed that the Navy is still a long way away from actually scrapping the ship, and they will both step in long before that happens.

“The fat lady hasn’t sung,” Haner said. “She’s not even in the building warming up yet.”

But for now the Kennedy is in Philadelphia, and it’s not among the ships the Navy is looking to donate.

Displacement: 60,728 tons
Length: 1,052 feet overall, 990 feet at waterline
Beam: 252 feet, 130 feet at waterline
Height: 192 feet from top of the mast to the waterline

Operational draft: 36-37 feet
Commissioned: September 1968
Refit: 1984
Decommissioned: March 2007
Source: U.S. Navy/USS John F. Kennedy Project

Source: Jacksonville. 29 December 2017

More VLCCs to be sold for scrap

Capesize bulkers witnessed an extended lease of life during 2017, as the recovery of the dry bulk market gave little incentive to their owners, to scrap them. The same can’t be said for the tanker counterparts, with what looks to be yet another challenging year in 2018, seemingly setting the scene towards more VLCC scrappings.

In its latest weekly report, GMS, the world’s leading cash buyer of ships said that amid the holiday season, activity in the ship demolition market settled down, as ship owners and brokers took some time off, meaning that the next few weeks are bound to be characterized by slow activity. In any case the quieter weeks are perhaps rather welcomed, given what have been a frantic few weeks of recycling activity, with much of the (recycling) focus falling on the wet and offshore sectors of late.

“Moreover, even though the markets recently witnessed a flurry of early-to-mid 90s built Capesize bulker sales from the Korean market (ones that were coming off government charters and being sold for scrap), it has been remarkably quiet on the dry (and container) recycling fronts this year as freight rates in both these sectors have made decent recoveries. The general feeling is that the pain being felt in the wet and offshore sectors is set to last a little longer and even going into 2018, an expectedly large volume of VLCCs (those on storage and otherwise) seem destined to come under the torch. In fact, this year alone, the markets have seen 14 VLCCs and about 25 Aframax tankers committed for scrap so far, most of which have ended up in Bangladesh”, said GMS.

It added that “on the industry front, given the large number of tankers sold for recycling this year and a slowdown on the dry side as well, it has been an exceptionally challenging (and frustrating) period for Gadani recyclers who have found themselves regularly paying over the odds (often as the highest placed sub-continent market), just to secure any of the working (dry) units that have made it for sale thus far. In fact, for the past 3-4 months, there have been whispers that the Pakistani market will open up for tankers again, albeit with stricter gas free for hot works standards (similar to those India and Bangladesh). However, discussions / meetings with the Pakistani government and PSBA are still ongoing as to how soon local authorities will permit tankers into the local market once again, after the tragic accident which cost scores of lives earlier in the year”, GMS concluded.

In a separate note, Athenian Shipbrokers added that “with the holiday season in full swing, last week saw the demolition market quieten down in terms of activity. The Bangladeshi market remained stagnated with no considerable alterations in terms of pricing and fundamentals. In India however local buyers appeared to take advantage of the betterment of local steel plate value and currency leading to a few high-profile reported sales. In Pakistan the hard times continued as the deterioration of local currency pressed the market even more. In the Far-East, the year is expected to close with a negative sentiment, as the majority of yards remain closed”, the shipbroker concluded.

Source: hellenic shipping news. 28 December 2017

The Royal Navy’s ‘most efficient’ ship could be axed

HMS Buwark was presented with the prestigious Royal Navy Capital Ship Efficiency Award four years in a row


A Plymouth-based warship facing the axe was ranked the Royal Navy’s most efficient vessel – four years in a row.

Defence chiefs are considering removing the two Devonport-based amphibious assault shops, HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion, from service in a bid to cut costs.

Migrants disembark in the port of Taranto, southern Italy, after being rescued at sea by British ship HMS Bulwark

It’s reported that scrapping to the two ships would free up sailors to man the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers, which are based in Portsmouth.

In 2016, Bulwark was presented with the prestigious Royal Navy Capital Ship Efficiency Award for the fourth year running.

The Royal Navy says Surface Flotilla Effectiveness Trophies are awarded annually to ships or other units in recognition of “achievement of excellence”.

The award is presented annually to the Capital Ship that has made a "consistent and outstanding contribution in the execution of her tasking and shown the highest standards of effectiveness in the course of her duties throughout the year".

The Royal Navy rescued more than 1,000 people off the coast of Libya, making it HMS Bulwark's "largest operation to date"
The Royal Navy rescued more than 1,000 people off the coast of Libya, making it HMS Bulwark's "largest operation to date" (Image: Rowan Griffiths/Daily Mirror/PA Wire)

Upon receiving the award last year, Captain James Parkin, the captain of HMS Bulwark said: "The Fleet Effectiveness Trophies are the only way for the Royal Navy to announce formally which ships have been assessed as the very best in the fleet.

"For HMS Bulwark to win this coveted annual prize is testament to the hard work and dedication of the hundreds of sailors and marines who have served in this amazing ship over the past 12 months, protecting our nation's interests in home waters, and across the globe.

"I am utterly proud of, and profoundly humbled by, this fine body of men and women - and supremely grateful for the support of their families too."

In 2015, HMS Bulwark and her crew helped rescue hundreds of migrants from the Medeterranean.

And 2016 was another busy year for HMS Bulwark as she took part in Joint Warrior and was involved in the Royal Navy’s Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) (JEF(M)) Task Group in the Middle East and Mediterranean.

Remaining ready for any contingency, the JEF(M) task group took part in amphibious exercises off Albania and Egypt before heading through the Suez Canal and conducting further exercises in Oman.

HMS Bulwark then spent a short period training the Somaliland Coastguard, before returning home in December (in time for Christmas) via Haifa in Israel, where she hosted senior dignitaries from the Israeli government and Armed Forces.

In the course of the deployment, the crew ate their way through 20 tonnes of potatoes and 3 tonnes of baked beans, and drunk tea from 23,000 tea bags.

HMS Bulwark has now steamed nearly a quarter of a million nautical miles since entering service in 2004.

Source: Plymouth Herald. 25 December 2017

GMS Market Commentary on Shipbreaking in Week 01 - RISKY BUSINESS!

The opening week of 2018 brought with it, a healthy collection of fireworks and some truly extraordinary and downright baffling sales, as Cash Buyer speculation ramps even further into overdrive and another potentially bullish quarter lies ahead in wait.

As dry bulk freight rates remain firm, the ongoing shortage of bulkers is expected to starve an overheated Pakistani market for tonnage. Consequently, one speculative Cash Buyer tabled an extraordinary price of USD 495/LT LDT for a Capesize bulker this week, in anticipation of a further firming of prices from Gadani.

This is undoubtedly an extremely risky tactic to employ as the fixing price is about USD 50/LDT away from where Gadani levels currently stand for dry units. When markets are positive, speculative offerings in excess of USD 10 - 20/LDT are commonplace. However, this price is definitely not reflective of current rates and could eventually come back to haunt the relevant Ship Owner and / or Cash Buyer, closer to physical delivery of the vessel.

Although local steel plate prices have enjoyed decent gains over the Christmas and New Year period, how long this trend will last remains to be seen. After all, what goes up eventually comes down! Meanwhile, the attention of several Ship Owners has already perked as prices are now on the verge of breaching the USD 500/LDT mark - the first time anything close to this level has been seen since early 2015. As such, it could be that the number of viable candidates increases during the early part of 2018 (especially those nearing SS / DDs) in an attempt to capture some of these fantastic numbers on show.

With Pakistan still closed for tankers, we would urge Owners of wet tonnage to curtail their expectations on rates as the only option for their units remains India or a far more muted Bangladesh, especially for large LDT wet units (Suezmax tankers and VLCCs). Overall, the year has started on a positive note and the prevailing optimism is expected to last at least until the Chinese New Year.

Source: steel guru. 09 Jan 2018

08 January 2018

Creating a Global Culture of Safety in Shipbreaking

In 2016, 86 percent of the world’s end-of-life vessels were broken up under rudimentary conditions on Asian beaches. To many shipowners, beaching appears to be an inexpensive means of recycling a marine vessel. But in reality, it comes at a steep cost to the environment and human life, with 52 deaths on South Asian shipbreaking beaches reported in 2016, and real figures feared to be much higher.

As a result, the International Labour Organisation has recently named shipbreaking as the most dangerous job in the world, and shipowners and recycling companies are under pressure to take responsibility.

Over the last decade, governments and global organizations have introduced numerous measures to address the health and environmental issues of unregulated shipbreaking. The U.S. Navy responded to criticisms over beaching by banning the export of ships for scrapping in 1997, with the Maritime Administration (MARAD) following suit in 1998.

In 2013, the E.U. introduced the Ship Recycling Regulation to effectively ban shipbreaking on beaches by requiring vessels sailing under a Member State’s flag to be recycled at an E.U. approved facility which meets the standards for safe and sustainable recycling. However, there is a major loophole in the legislation -  international maritime law enables shipowners to swap their ship’s country flag for an alternative country outside the E.U. (often via a quick cash transaction).

On a global level, the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships was introduced in 2009 to ensure ship owners and U.N. member states do not pose a risk to human health, safety and the environment when recycling marine vessels. However, this regulation does not ban the international beaching of ships for dismantling, which is blamed for the majority of shipbreaking accidents and fatalities. Additionally, as the Convention requires 15 member states and 40 percent of world merchant shipping to ratify, it is unlikely to come into force in the near future.

The result is the continued beaching of ships in unregulated waters and facilities, polluting the environment and risking the lives of local workers.

Due to the structural complexity of marine vessels, shipbreaking is a multifaceted process. As well as the risks associated with metal cutting, elevated work and operating heavy machinery, the dismantling process can also expose workers to a number of hazardous materials. These can include asbestos found in gaskets, insulation and valve packing; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in cables, rubber products and paint; and toxic heavy metals in paint/coatings.

A number of companies across the world operate safe and responsible shipbreaking facilities which minimize worker and environmental exposure to these risks. At EMR, we have invested heavily in our facilities and established quality control procedures and best management practices to ensure that regulatory compliant, environmentally sound methods are followed throughout the ship recycling process.

Employee safety is the number one priority across our shipbreaking sites in Brownsville, Texas; New Orleans and Amelia, Louisiana. Our ultimate aim is to elevate the shipbreaking process so that ship recycling sites are not regarded as poorly regulated scrap yards but places that are safe, efficient and rewarding to work at.

Responsible shipbreaking requires extensive planning and constant safety considerations and, as such, preparation is key. Before submitting a bid to recycle a ship, a lot of work goes into assessing the vessel to create a bespoke recycling plan. This involves close inspection of the vessel, carrying out a series of tests to assess the materials on board and identifying any hazardous elements. Once this research and preparation is complete, the recycling bid is submitted to the government agency or owner of the ship.

If the bid is successful, the next port of call is to carry out further sampling to complete the environmental assessment when the ship arrives at the recycling facility. At this stage, specialists are brought in to conduct a complete safety assessment of the ship, including gas testing and certification of the work areas “Safe for Shipbreaking.” Specialist HAZMAT teams wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) remove hazardous materials, fire hazards and cold cut/break and drain all pipes/equipment containing fuel. Before hot work can commence in any area on board the ship, each section is individually assessed and awarded a permit once declared safe. The ship cutting process can only begin once all the assessments have been carried out and any hazardous substances extracted.

In the U.S., OSHA and EPA standards exist to ensure that shipbreaking operations are completed in a safe and environmentally compliant manner. At EMR, we have built upon these standards to create a strong culture of safety at our ship recycling sites. We maintain comprehensive fire protection measures and have appropriate emergency response, rescue and first-aid service and personnel in place. All of our workers receive extensive training and proper PPE before work can begin on the ship recycling process.

The large proportion of the world’s ships being dismantled in an unregulated manner emphasizes the importance of incentivising shipowners to recycle their ships responsibly via an approved facility rather than opting for the low-cost, dangerous and polluting alternative.

There needs to be greater transparency over what happens to a ship at the end of its life and the recycling process. Exploring new ways to encourage shipowners to recycle their ships responsibly will go a long way to preventing ships being broken down on beaches.

Source: maritime-executive. 08 January 2018

03 January 2018


At least 15 workers were killed and more than a hundred injured in accidents at different shipbreaking yards in Chittagong this year with the latest incident occurring on Monday that claimed another life.

The latest victim, Md Manik, 35, was killed as he was hit by a crane on the head at SNT Shipbreaking Yard in Lalbegh area of Sitakunda upazila, said Assistant Sub-Inspector Alauddin Talukder of Chittagong Medical College Hospital Police Camp.

Experts say the risk of accidents in the yards increases due to some specific reasons including untrained workers, unsafe storage and disposal of toxic wastes in the ships and working without personal protection equipment (PPE).

Mohammad Ali Shahin, Bangladesh Coordinator of Brussels-based NGO Shipbreaking Platform, said workers are neither trained up properly nor provided with the PPE.

He added toxic materials of the tanks of ships are not properly cleaned before beaching in yards that poses a threat to explosion.

“At least 15 workers were killed and more than a hundred injured in shipbreaking yards this year,” he said, adding that at least 159 workers were killed in between 2005 and 2016.

During a recent visit to a number of shipbreaking yards, this correspondent found workers working without any safety gear. Some were seen cutting the plates through welding without wearing eyeglasses and masks.

Mohammad Idris, a shipbreaking worker, lost the lower portion of his left leg in an accident at a shipbreaking yard on April 11, 2015.

He said the owners did not provide them with PPE. “The owners provide safety gears to the workers only the day when the inspection team from the Department of Environment visits the yard,” he added.

Abu Taher, president of Bangladesh Shipbreakers Association, however, claimed the owners provide the PPE, but the workers do not use those as they do not feel comfortable.

Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers' Association (BELA), said the only way to stop the accidents is mechanising the entire procedure.

“Workers don't break ships in the developed countries. It's done by machines,” she said, adding, “Using PPE can only save workers from minor accidents. It cannot save them from fatal ones.”

Source: the daily star. 27 December 2017

Labourer dies as fire breaks out in tanker beached at Alang

RAJKOT: Fires broke out in two tankers that had come for dismantling at the Alang Shipbreaking Yard on Thursday, leaving one labourer dead.

Fire broke out in the engine room and accommodation area of tanker DV Ria at around 3:30pm. The plot 111, where the tanker was beached belongs to Shiv Corporation. The blaze was controlled after several hours. Sources said that the labourer Chandrashekhar Singh died of severe burns and suffocation.

Fire also broke out at the pump room of MT Germania, a tanker, on the plot owned by Dalkan Shipbreaking. The fire was reported at around 11:45am and was doused only by 2:15pm. One person suffered burn injuries.

Source: times of india. 29 December 2017