ShippingWatch – NGO: Greeks and Germans top list of beach scrapping

(Written by Joergen Rudbeck)

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4 February 2013 - 40 percent of the ships that are scrapped on Asian beaches come from the EU. Greece and Germany are the biggest sinners, says NGO Shipbreaking Platform in a new survey.

NGO Shipbreaking Platform has performed a survey of how many ships were  scrapped on beaches around the world last year. Of the 1,213 large oceangoing  vessels that were scrapped in 2013, 645 ships met their demise on non-certified  beaches in countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Patrizia Heidegger, CEO of NGO Shipbreaking Platform, is pleased with the  parts of the development concerned with the fact that a lower number of total  ships are being hauled onto beaches without approved working conditions.

“Whereas the number of dismantled ships remained nearly as high as in 2012,  the number of beached ships dropped from 850 to 645 in 2013, representing a  reduction of 24 percent from the previous year. More ship owners have opted for  cleaner and safer solutions in 2013 compared to previous years – this is good  news for the environment and the workers, and also for those ship recycling  yards globally that have invested in better practices,” says Patrizia Heidegger,  before turning her attention toward places that still need improvement.

“Still, the majority of ship owners uphold their dirty practices and European  owners are amongst the worst,” she says, referring especially to Greek and  German shipowners, who according to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform survey top the  list of countries that have sent the biggest number of ships to Asian  beaches.

European owners sold a total 372 major vessels for scrapping last year, and  238 of these – almost one third – wound up on the beaches of Southeast Asia.  According to the organization, the Greek owners were the worst, but German  owners followed close behind. As many as 80 percent of the two countries’  obsolete ships wound up in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and owners included  names such as Danaos and Euroseas from Greece, and Conti, Hapag-Lloyd, and  Leonhardt & Blumberg from Germany.

Known container ships part of the register

Among the European companies are Swiss container carrier MSC, which scrapped  nine ships in India last year, while Monaco-based Sammy Ofer Group had 13 ships  taken apart in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Maersk also features on the NGO Shipbreaking Platform list, as the sold three  ships to Diana Shipping before they were scrapped, after which the carrier  chartered the vessels for continued operations. The three ships were scrapped  last year on beaches in Asia, and NGO Shipreaking Platform points out that these  ships represent the current trend that still reigns among carriers pretending to  act responsibly in terms of shipbreaking.

Carriers circumvent the rules by selling vessels to non-EU companies while  continuing to operate them, says the organization. Outflagging shortly prior to  scrapping means that two out of three European ships sail to scrapping under  non-EU flags, and thus the new EU regulations, which came into force on  September 30th 2013, are too lax. Even though the regulations include a  financial incentive, carriers with ships under non-EU flags will still find it  lucrative to sail the ships and their toxic cargo to beach facilities that do  not comply with the requirements if they get a chance to do so.

“Reflagging has always been a convenient way for ship owners to circumvent  rules enforced by the flag states. The Platform and its members have been  calling upon the EU to introduce an economic incentive to promote clean and safe  ship recycling, because a Regulation based only on the voluntary registration  under a European flag will not have the promised impact,” says Patrizia  Heidegger.

Good Norwegians

On the list of positive examples the NGO highlights two Norwegian carriers,  Grieg and Höegh Autoliners, as companies that act responsibly when it comes to  scrapping. The list also features Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) and Royal Ducth  Boskalis, which took the extra step and have actually recycled materials from  their ships in OECD countries.