Lloyd’s List – Pressure group halts Northern Vitality scrapping

(Written by Katrin Berkenkopf)

13 September 2012 - Vessel stays berthed at Wilhelmshaven for the time being

PROTESTS by the Brussels-based non-governmental organisation Shipbreaking Platform seem to have stopped the planned scrapping ofNorthern Vitality, the boxship caught up in the row over the demolition of so-called ‘toxic’ ships.

German authorities ordered that the vessel should not leave its berth atWilhelmshavenfor the time being.

The 1997-built, 2,800 teu vessel, managed byNorddeutsche Reedereiand owned by a KG fund issued byNorddeutsche Vermögen, had recently served as a test ship for the new deepsea container terminal in Wilhelmshaven. Its last regular employment ended in early May.

Broker reports suggested that Northern Vitality was bound for scrapping, along with other vessels from the Norddeutsche Vermögen KG fleet.

A spokesman for Norddeutsche Reederei confirmed that the vessel had been sold, but denied that it was with the clear intention of scrapping. The fate of the vessel was up to the buyer, which he declined to name. The handover, originally planned to take place in Wilhelmshaven this week, had been postponed to solve the legal problems, he said.

The NGO claimed that the buyer was cash buyer GMS, which was planning to have the ship scrapped in Alang. Shipbreaking Platform made a public call to stop the transaction last week, which has now been followed by the authority’s ban on the ship leaving port.

The Lower Saxony state environment ministry pointed out that it was not allowed, under European Union rules, to have ships scrapped in countries which are not members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, such as India. Also, the owner needed a special certificate issued by state authorities before the ship could be scrapped.

“We expect Germany to put into practice the ban on bringing hazardous waste to developing countries,” said Shipbreaking Platform director Ingvild Jenssen.

India’s Supreme Court tightened the regulations for shipbreaking on July 30.

Regardless of the eventual resolution of the case, Northern Vitality will have to be moved from its position, as the new Wilhelmshaven terminal will celebrate its official opening next week.

“It does not have to stay in the port, but has to remain in German waters,” a spokeswoman for the ministry said.