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How Ships Kick The Bucket

How Ships Kick The Bucket
October 04
11:00 2017

“Full speed ahead” command 200 meters from a sand bank is not a usual order given by the Master to the Chief Engineer.

In the dark dungeon of the noisy engine room, engineers anticipated the command in advance. Fully prepared everyone braced for the inventible impact when the giant ship hit the beach.

The 35 year old Harland Wolf two stroke opposed piston shuddered while it and responded with the full 90 revaluations per minute. While the inertia type governor waved up and down madly, the lubrication oil temperature reaching sky high limits, and engine cooling water steaming, the ship hit the beach. She then stood upright majestically like a solder in parade well stuck in the soft mud.. Beaching of a vessel is often an acceptable procedure to get of trouble. This was not a ship in distress.

This is how ships die.

Even before the crew emotionally disembarks via make shift ladders salvaging a little souvenir to remember their beloved ship, the chopping crew are already on board.  The cutting machines start slicing the metal piece by piece and another crew preparing to pump the oil out of the tanks.

This week’s article looks at another deadly sin. This time sometimes unjustified accusation of pollution by ship recycling.

International Maritime Organisation (IMO) instrument, The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships 2009 (Hong Kong Convention) is aimed at ensuring that ships, when recycled after reaching end of their operational lives do not pose any unnecessary risks to human health, safety and the environment.

According the owners of the ship wrecking facility argues that not even a bolt or a liter of fuel is left unused after the whole ship disassembles, cut out and hauled ashore.

The work of course is done in a primitive fashion. There are no modern methods or equipment used.

Like a human colony of ants the local workers dismember the huge vessels piece by piece drag the steel ashore by gigantic winches.

Downtown Chittagong is one massive marine market. Generator engines are stored by the road side, there are people dismantling electric motors pulling the copper wire apart, Ships toilets are neatly stacked, and lifeboats float in the river, all waiting for a buyer.

With three quarters of the world recycling capacity in the beaches of South Asia, namely India, Pakistan and Bangladesh whole townships live by the means of the industry.

Workers health and safety is the major concern as they man handle the ship parts. Asbestos was extensively used for insulation was another issue. Use of Asbestos is being faced out from vessels and does not appear to be a concern anymore.

These scrapyards as they were popularly known are now regulated ever than before. IMO, European Union (EU) and Greenpeace Organisation, actively monitor the yards. They work together to make the 130,000 workers in registered 132 yards health safety and welfare is ensured.

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