Wreckage just around the corner from Maori Bay

Article: National Geographic on ship breaking

The logical extension of the “sea blindness” that Rose George describes (and attempts to set right) in Deep Sea and Foreign Going, is blindness to what happens to the ships that bring us all our worldly goods at the end of their lives – when they go out of service. They go to the ship breakers.

The effective lifespan of a ship is 25-30 years, and at the end of that time, if it hasn’t sunk yet and become a dive site (or disappeared without a trace), it is most likely to arrive on the coast of Bangladesh, China, India, Turkey Pakistan, or another poorly regulated third world destination. Here, giant vessels are chopped up on the beach by thousands of workers, swarming over the steel hulks like ants, dismantling them without the assistance of heavy machinery. Up to 90% of the steel is recycled. It is dangerous, polluting work. Safety and environmental standards are practically non existent in most ship breaking yards and accidents are frequent. The scale of the work is mind-boggling.

William Langewiesche wrote about shipbreaking in the Indian town of Alang in The Outlaw Sea. For a more visual overview of the industry, National Geographic to the rescue!

Read the National Geographic article here. An associated photo gallery (highly recommended) can be found here, and a short video here.

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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