(Written by Lee Hong Liang)
14 October 2014 – The beaches of South Asia received the majority of ships being sent for demolition during the third quarter, and several of these ships had their flags changed as their owners sought to sidestep their respective governing regulations on responsible ship recycling, according to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
From January to September 2014, more than 70% out of 202 unwanted ships were sent to the beaches of South Asia for scrapping. NGO Shipbreaking Platform further outlined that 39 of those ships sent to South Asian beaches were owned by European shipowners, with Greek owners alone selling 19 ships to South Asian breakers.
“Despite the new EU law outruling the use of the beaching method to dismantle EU-flagged vessels, ships registered under the flags of Cyprus, Malta and Greece hit the beaches – more ships also changed their flag from an EU to a non-EU flag just weeks before reaching South Asia,” NGO Shipbreaking Platform noted.
The organisation detailed that Poland’s Polsteam sold three vessels to South Asian breakers during the third quarter, all registered under the flag of Vanuatu.
More interestingly, China’s Cosco reportedly will receive a $225m subsidy to decommission and upgrade ships domestically, but one of the company’s China-flagged vessels was sold to a Bangladeshi breaker in July.
“More than half of the Chinese owned ships broken this (third) quarter were sold to South Asian breakers. None of these – except the government owned ships sold to Bangladesh – were registered under the Chinese flag,” NGO Shipbreaking Platform revealed.
Flags of convenience such as Comoros, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Tuvalu, that are less favourable during operational use, were popular flags for the end-of-life ships broken in South Asia, it added.
“Finally, whilst German Hapag-Lloyd joined the group of progressive shipowners committed to responsible ship recycling off the beach, Dutch shipowner Vroon BV does the opposite by selling one of its livestock vessels to Bangladesh,” it said.
So far this year, 515 ships have ended up on the beaches of South Asia, bringing the total death toll this year to 21 workers.