Paranoia and Ghost Fleet

25 Oct 2007

Since November 2003 four American vessels have been waiting to be demolished in the English port of Hartlepool. Following the legal harassment by the organisation Friends of the Earth, the dismantling is constantly delayed. From the beginning, Robin des Bois a non-governmental French organisation states that the British shipyard ABLE U.K in Hartlepool should be given permission to implement their contract to dismantle the retired US Navy freight ships. These ghost ships were towed to Hartlepool under an agreement between The United States and the British authorities. (See Robin des Bois press releases. “Un espoir pour les navires en fin de vie”, 8th December 2003 and “Another way of looking at the Clemenceau” 30th December 2005).

Hartlepool-Robin-des-Bois-2007The US “Ghost Ships” at Hartlepool. Screenshot Google Earth

Sending these ships back to the United States would mean taking unnecessary risks of shipwrecks and of pollution to the marine environment. Leaving these ships docked in Hartlepool is risky for harbour safety and the environment and contributes to polluting the sediments through the flaking of anti fouling toxic paint.

To claim that letting these four ships be dismantled in Hartlepool would open the door for hundreds of similar ships is unrealistic and foolish compared to the 293 ships scrapped in the world in 2006; after the mishap of the ghost ships and the Clemenceau affair, the US authorities have understood that they have to find their own means to recycle their vessels at the end of their life. This unexpected anticipation is also assuming that the work carried out on these four ships will have no negative consequences.

Robin des Bois would like numerous shipyards to have the capacity to correctly dismantle vessels at the end of their life in Europe and observes that in the meantime one third of the vessels demolished in Asia under conditions which are contradictory to environmental and sanitary regulations in force in the European Community have European owners among them English -see the Magnolia case in 10

Permitting the ABLE UK shipyard to dismantle one ghost ship is the only way to have an educated opinion of the effects to the environment to the workers and the time it will take. Whilst a part of the MSC Napoli was moored in August to be demolished in the Northern Irish shipyard Harland and Wolff in Belfast, and whilst the HMS Fearless, 158 m in length, built in 1963 in this same shipyard is on the way to be demolished in Galloo shipyard in Gent (Belgium), Hartlepool is continuing its paranoid resistance, which looks like a lost battle and a refusal to engage in the legitimate and sustainable pathway to recycle vessels. This battle is another way of enhancing the unacceptable practice of ship breaking in Asia. Robin des Bois is asking the Municipal council of Hartlepool to favour the last request of ABLE UK shipyard. If this application is not accepted we are calling for the towage of the ships to a nearby shipyard to be dismantled in the vicinity.


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