The Final Voyage: Exploring The Intricate World Of Ship Scrapping


As ships age, typically between 20 to 32 years, they embark on their final journey to a ship graveyard. Various factors, including ship types, market conditions, and scrapyards’ demands, dictate when and how these vessels are dismantled. Join us as we explore the methods and processes involved in giving these maritime giants a fitting farewell.

Major Ship Scrapping Locations

According to UNCTAD data, the top three ships scrapping countries by tonnage are Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. These countries dominate the industry due to their established infrastructure and cost-effective labor. Ship scrapping is a significant part of their economies, providing jobs and recycled materials. Each country uses various methods to dismantle ships, contributing to their efficiency and capacity to handle large volumes.

Methods of Ship Scrapping

  1. Dry Docking: This method, though costly and rarely used for scrapping, involves sailing the ship into a dock, pumping out water, and dismantling the vessel. It is primarily seen in Europe and is more commonly used for ship repairs.
  2. Pier Breaking or Alongside Method: In this method, ships are secured along a wharf, and cranes remove pieces until the vessel can be lifted or sent to a dry dock for final cutting. This practice is common in China, Europe, and the US.
  3. Landing and Slipway: Ships sail against the shore or a concrete slipway, where onshore or barge-based cranes dismantle them. This method is often used in Turkey.
  4. Beaching: The most common method, especially in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, involves steaming ships onto a tidal beach, allowing workers direct access for cutting. The ship is lightened before beaching to navigate shallow waters safely and then anchored and secured to prevent drifting or tilting.

Dismantling Process

Once the ship is in position, the intricate process of dismantling begins. Specialized equipment, such as cutting torches and heavy machinery, is used to systematically cut through the hull and superstructure, starting from the top and working down. Workers separate the ship into manageable sections for recycling. Safety measures are crucial throughout this process to protect both the workers and the vessel.

Through these detailed methods and processes, the maritime industry efficiently recycles ships, contributing to sustainability and resource management.

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Source: Marine Insight