“Shipbreaking” #70, the International Shipbreaking Show

29 Dec 2023

Voyage between Worse and Better
“Shipbreaking” # 70
(pdf 92 pages – 16.2 Mo)
1 April – 30 September 2023
91 sources – 270 photos


Taking into account only the two leaders (Bangladesh, 580,000 tonnes, and India, 564,000 tonnes), the shipbreaking market between April and September 2023 amounted to 640 million US$, despite low levels of activity in the yards.

Financial circuits are increasingly difficult to trace. For example, the Maersk Patras (see page 49) was deflagged from Singapore to Saint Kitts and Nevis. The Singapore subsidiary of the Danish company Maersk sold her to Trade Shipping Inc registered in the Marshall Islands, care of Machtrans Ship Management Pvt Ltd India. Of the 208 transactions of merchant ships that were sold for scrapping in the second and third quarters of 2023, the Marshall Islands emerged as a hub in 32 cases.

Maersk Patras, Alang, October 2023. © Eren Topcu/FaceBook Shipbreaking Group

Out of 206 ships scrapped, 100 were deflagged for the last voyage. Saint Kitts and Nevis remains the preferred funeral flag (36 ships). It comes ahead of Comoros (16), which is making a worrying breakthrough, Gabon (14) and Sierra Leone (10).

After the time of deflagging, now comes the time of “de-classing”. The market for end-of-life merchant ships has been infiltrated by a dozen or so fast and cheap classification societies, which certify seaworthiness and organise the deflagging to the Comoros or other grey-black flags by the means of three clicks and two copies. The Capital Register of Shipping goes to great lengths to attract customers. It illustrates its website wallpapers with photos of the CMA CGM Vasco de Gama, whose classification society is Bureau Veritas, a member of the IACS (International Association of Classification Societies). Inspired by general undertakers, companies such as The Last Voyage DMCC (United Arab Emirates) and Grand Voyage Marine Co Ltd (China) are specialising in the last voyage of end-of-life vessels.

Those responsible for the last voyage are not lacking in imagination when it comes to changing names without incurring costs. Lyra Trading Ltd transformed the bulk carrier San Shin into Sun Shine before placing her under the protection of the Comoros flag.

The achievement of the half year was the transfer thanks to ExxonMobil of the 331-meter-long Zafiro Producer from Equatorial Guinea to Denmark using a semi-submersible vessel. The Zafiro Producer will be dismantled in Frederikshavn in a yard approved by the European Union.

On the other hand, the Gabonese subsidiary of the French Perenco SA has sold the Fernan Vaz, the floating crude oil storage facility it had been operating off the coast of Gabon since 2004, to Alang for demolition. The deal raised 10 million US$ for Perenco and other stakeholders. The tanks of the Fernan Vaz, which operated for 24 years as a tanker and 19 years as a floating storage facility, are encrusted with foul-smelling and poisonous sludge.

Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, is changing course. The 337-metre Petrobras 32 will be dismantled in dry dock in Rio Grande del Sul. The ex-Foch aircraft carrier Sao Paulo could easily have benefited from this treatment instead of decomposing in the deeps since 3 February 2023 in a shroud of tin and lead paint.

During these two quarters of 2023, MSC, the Mediterranean Shipping Company, sent 9 container ships to Alang for scrapping.

MSC Jasmine at sea, now Jasmine on the beach, October 5, 2023, Alang (see page 50). © Compass Shipping Agency

The Archimedes (16,000 km, Nouadhibou-Alang, see page 19), the Friosur VIII (13,000 km, Montevideo-Aliaga, see page 18) and the Kema (8,500 km, Vladivostok-Chattogram, see page 37) travelled the longest routes on their final voyage. Get ready for carbon footprint, hydrocarbon footprint and risks for crews. All these old tubs are moving with high sulfur bunker fuel. They are polluting like factories in the seventies. Having left Mauritania in mid-September, the Archimedes arrived in view of Alang demolition beaches in mid-December.

Archimedes anchored off Nouadhibou (Mauritania), September 12, 2022. © vovashap

The good news is that the Kaiyo Maru, an Antarctic whale tracker, has been scrapped in Bangladesh (see page 88).

Issue 70 of “Shipbreaking” is full of stories about the risks some shipowners take to cash in on cheap labour force. For example, an American chemical tanker, a former container ship that collided with an oil tanker in New York in 1973 (see “Shipbreaking” n° 65), ended up making her way from Philadelphia to Türkiye under her own power. Leaving the United States in December 2021, she arrived in tow at Aliaga in July 2023, a year and a half later (see ex-Sea Witch page 70).

# 70 is also marked by a tragic story. The Raptor and her 14 sailors were abandoned in the middle of the raging seas by an absentee owner and manager (see “The End” pages 91-92).

# 70 analyses the ships, products and destinations of the international food export program from Ukraine between December 19, 2022 and July 16, 2023. The majority of the ships had been detained prior to their participation in this program. Four flags on the Paris Memorandum blacklist were used. This third report confirms that the countries threatened by famine and hunger riots were by no means the first to benefit. The European Union, China and Türkiye were the main recipients (see page 3).



Vladimir Kolechitskiy, under scrutiny, in the Hawaiian waters, September 14, 1974, see page 83. © National Archives

Vladimir Kolechitskiy, Chattogram, Bangladesh, September 7, 2023. © Md Ziku



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