Dismantling Ships: A Peek Inside One Of The Most Dangerous Professions!

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Credit: Trace Hudson/ Pexels

The workers at the Aliağa ship breaking yards in western Turkey usually demolished only a few dozen cargo ships a year. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the cruise-line industry, the demolition site was inundated with ships. 

Heavy Loses

The industry lost billions of dollars by the end of 2020, with Carnival Cruise Line losing more than $4 billion in the second quarter of 2020. Carnival Cruise Line sold six ships for scrap, which were taken to the Aliağa ship breaking yards. The job of breaking down these large ships is one of the most dangerous and the added load has only made it harder.  “The owners could not find customers so they sent their ships to Aliağa,” Emre Aras, a project manager at Avsar Gemi Sokum told Insider. The process starts with captains coordinating with harbormasters to beach the ships in Turkey. 

While the boat is being inspected, the crew figures out how to dismantle the vessel. Around 2,500 shipbreakers work to remove valuable material from the ships, emptying them out deck by deck mostly by hand. “I can easily say that cruise vessels are the hardest vessel type to dismantle because, you know, there are hundreds of rooms on board,” Aras said. 

A Dangerous Job

Those involved in this process risk a lot to do it, Nicola Mulinaris, a communication and policy officer at NGO Shipbreaking Platform told Insider. Mulinaris explained that workers run the risk of falling from heights, inhaling toxic gasses, getting hit by falling objects, and dealing with fire hazards from instruments like blow torches. Not to mention, that these shipbreakers work in extreme weather conditions during both the summer and winter months. Additionally, any mistakes could cause damage to the environment and ruin millions of dollars worth of parts that need to be maintained in a specific condition to be reused. 

Dozens of shipyard workers have died or gotten injured in recent years in Southeast Asia. However, while conditions at the yard in Turkey were just as bad in the late 1990s by the early 2000’s reports on the unsafe conditions forced changes in policy. By 2018, Aliağa yards began to comply with the European Union Ship Recycling Regulation, which meant the shipyard received improvements to limit environmental hazards while dismantling ships. 

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Source: Insider

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