Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2017

European ship owners top the list of global dumpers: the EU must do more to reverse this scandal


According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 835 large ocean-going commercial vessels were sold to the scrap yards in 2017. 543 were broken down – by hand – on the tidal beaches of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan: amounting to 80,3% of all tonnage dismantled globally.

"The figures of 2017 are a sad testimony of the shipping industry’s unwillingness to act responsibly. The reality is that yards with infrastructure fit for the heavy and hazardous industry that ship recycling is, and that can ensure safe working conditions and containment of pollutants, are not being used by ship owners. It is particularly shameful that so many European shipping companies scrap their vessels on beaches. Their obvious lack of interest to ensure that shipbreaking workers around the world enjoy best available technologies, and that the environment is equally protected everywhere, clearly calls for additional pressure from authorities, shipping clients and financers."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The negative consequences of shipbreaking are real and felt by many. On the one hand, workers – often exploited migrants and some of them children – lose their life, suffer from injuries caused by fires, falling steel plates and the general unsafe working conditions, as well as from occupational diseases due to exposure to toxic fumes and materials. On the other hand, coastal ecosystems, and the local communities depending on them, are devastated by toxic spills and various pollutants leaking into the environment as a result of breaking vessels on beaches.


Despite the terrible accident that shook the international shipbreaking community in 2016, no lesson has been learned in Pakistan. In 2017, at least 10 workers lost their lives at the shipbreaking yards on the beach of Gadani. The Platform documented 15 deaths in the Bangladeshi yards last year, where also at least another 22 workers were seriously injured. Whilst international and local NGOs were repeatedly denied access to the Indian shipbreaking yards, the Platform was informed of at least eight fatal accidents in Alang in 2017.


DUMPERS 2017 - Worst practices


As in 2016, GERMANY and GREECE top the list of country dumpers in 2017. German owners, including banks and ship funds, beached 50 vessels out of a total of 53 sold for demolition. Greek owners were responsible for the highest absolute number of ships sold to South Asian shipbreaking yards in 2017: 51 ships in total. Since the Platform’s first compilation of data in 2009, Greek shipping companies have unceasingly topped the list of owners that opt for dirty and dangerous shipbreaking.


Despite increased pressure for safe and clean ship recycling from Norwegian investors and authorities, in 2017, the number of Norwegian-owned ships scrapped on the beach was on the rise: 16 ended up in Alang, Gadani and Chittagong. The attempted illegal export of the TIDE CARRIER to Pakistan was stopped by Norwegian authorities following an alert by the Platform.


In light of increased pressure from Scandinavian banks and investors, including Norwegian pension funds KLP and NBIM, and ongoing criminal investigations against the owners of TIDE CARRIER, Norwegian ship owners will have to ask themselves whether dirty profits are worth the reputational and financial risk that using beaching facilities now entails. Also, Danish container-giant Maersk will have an increasingly hard time justifying its U-turn back to the beach in Alang, as the yards there will not make it on the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities [1]”, comments Ingvild Jenssen.


The worst corporate dumper prize goes to Continental Investment Holdings (CIH), the Singapore-headquartered shipowning arm of Myanmar shipowner Captain U Ko Ko Htoo and parent company of Continental Shipping Line. The company, which is currently changing the composition of its fleet, sold 9 ships for breaking on the beaches in 2017. Four vessels ended up in Bangladesh, where in late December, during the demolition of CIH’s TAUNG GYI STAR, a worker died hit by a falling iron plate.


Ranked at second place, the container shipping giant Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) sold 7 vessels to Indian breakers. In the last nine years, MSC has profited from the sale of more than seventy ships for dirty and dangerous scrapping in Alang.


The Japanese owner Mitsui OSK Lines and the UK-based Zodiac Group follow closely with respectively 6 and 5 ships sold to South Asian yards. Zodiac received the worst dumper award in 2016 and sold 4 vessels to the yards in Chittagong despite being under scrutiny after a Bangladeshi worker sought compensation from the company for injuries incurred when breaking the EURUS LONDON.


Other known companies that in 2017 opted for substandard yards, rather than recycling their ships in a safe and clean manner, include: Hanjin Shipping, Hansa Mare Reederei, Peter Dohle Schiffahrts, Rickmers Reederei, Hansa Treuhand, Berge Bulk, Costamare, Quantum Pacific Group and Teekay. Teekay had promised to never sell to beaching yards again after a worker died breaking the ASPIRE in 2014 in Chittagong. That Berge Bulk was under the spotlight in December 2016, when it was feared that the Berge Stahl would end up on a beach, did not prevent the company from selling another 5 ships for dirty and dangerous breaking in 2017.


With the oil and gas sector seeing a downturn in the last couple of years, the Platform has documented an increase in offshore units that have gone for scrap. Out of the 91 units which have been identified as demolished in the last three years combined, 41 of them ended up on the beaches of South Asia after being towed for thousands of kilometers across the globe. Three floating platforms cold-stacked in Scotland that were sold by Diamond Offshore for scrap in 2017, allegedly to cash buyer GMS, were stopped from leaving following an alert by the Platform on their highly likely illegal export. “Fixed platforms cannot easily escape decommissioning rules, whereas we have seen that nearly half of all floating units slip under the radar and end up on beaches – this double standard has to stop”, states Francesca Carlsson, Corporate Liaison and Policy Officer of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.


All vessels sold to the beaching yards pass through the hands of scrap dealers known as cash buyers. In this way, ship owners attempt to shield themselves from responsibility, and are paid upfront the highest market price in cash for their end-of-life vessels by the dealers. To reduce costs and to exploit the loopholes in international legislation, cash buyers will change a vessel’s flag to one of the typical last-voyage flags of convenience, such as Comoros, Palau and St Kitts and Nevis. Cash buyers will also register the vessel under a new name and a new post box company, rendering it very difficult for authorities to trace and hold cash buyers and ship owners accountable for illicit business practices.

"Ship-owning companies that stand by their corporate social responsibility directly sign contracts with ship recycling facilities they have inspected and found adequate. Choosing to sell a ship to a facility which is on the EU list of approved yards is the easiest way for a ship owner to be assured that there has been a quality check. Fortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult for ship owners to simply blame the cash buyer: investors and authorities are expecting ship owners to control the choice of the recycling yard, and expect that choice to be a yard that does not endanger workers and the environment [2]."
Francesca Carlsson - Corporate Liaison and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

For the list of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2017, click here.*/**
For detailed figures and analysis on ships dismantled in 2017, click here.*


* The data gathered by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform is sourced from different outlets and stakeholders, and is cross-checked whenever possible. The data upon which this information is based is correct to the best of the Platform’s knowledge, and the Platform takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided. The Platform will correct or complete data if any inaccuracy is signaled. All data which has been provided is publicly available and does not reveal any confidential business information.


**[UPDATE 22 February 2018 - Norwegian Tschudi Shipping Company AS informed us that two ships the company owned, the Hurricane I and the Hurricane II, had been sold to a buyer for continued operation in August 2016, one year before they ended up on South Asian beaches. Indeed, the buyer was the Indian registered company Hermes Maritime Services Pvt Ltd, which in 2017 purchased and sold several ships for breaking. Further research revealed that Hermes Maritime Services Pvt Ltd also buys tugboats near the end of their operational lives and manages these to tow vessels to the beaching yards, as was the case for the Hurricane vessels. The Platform has therefore updated the data and changed the ownership of these two vessels to the Indian-based Hermes Maritime Services Pvt]
[UPDATE 23 February 2018 - Italian K-Ships Srl informed us that one ship the company managed, the F1, had been sold to a buyer for continued operation in November 2013, four years before it ended up on a South Asian beach. The documentation provided by K-Ships shows that the Italian company is not linked to the end-of-life sale of the F1. The Platform has therefore rectified the data concerning the beneficial ownership of the vessel]





[1] In 2018, the EU will publish a list of ship recycling facilities around the world that comply with high standards for environmental protection and workers’ safety. The list will be the first of its kind and an important reference point for sustainable ship recycling.


[2] The many scandals involving European shipping companies are also a driver behind the strong interest that various financial institutions have started to show in ship recycling: to ensure responsible business practices, some are now setting criteria for shipping companies they finance, while looking at the EU Ship Recycling Regulation for guidance.


Press Release – Dutch prosecutors press criminal charges against Seatrade

Managers risk prison sentences and hefty fines for the illegal sale of end-of-life ships




Brussels, 15 February 2018 – Following discussions with the Dutch Public Prosecutor, cash buyer GMS was not confirmed to be the end-buyer of the Seatrade’s vessels. Evidence provided to the Court showed that GMS had made an offer for at least one of the ships, which supports the Prosecutor’s case on Seatrade’s intent to dispose of the vessel(s).


For the first time in Europe, Public Prosecutors are bringing criminal charges against a ship owner – Seatrade – for having sold vessels to scrap yards in countries “where current ship dismantling methods endanger the lives and health of workers and pollute the environment”. The case is being heard in a Rotterdam Court this week, and the Dutch Public Prosecutor calls for a hefty fine (2.55 mill EUR) and confiscation of the profits Seatrade made on the illegal sale of four ships, as well as a six month prison sentence for three of Seatrade’s top executives. Seatrade is based in Groningen, the Netherlands, and is the largest reefer operator in the world.


In 2013, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform had revealed Seatrade’s sale of the SPRING BEAR and SPRING BOB to respectively Indian and Bangladeshi breakers. The heavy charges pressed by the Dutch Prosecutor additionally involve the scrapping of the SPRING PANDA and SPRING DELI in Turkey, and are based on international laws governing the export of hazardous waste and the EU Waste Shipment Regulation. The Regulation prohibits EU Member States from exporting hazardous waste [1] to countries outside the OECD, as well as requiring a prior informed consent for such exports. All four vessels departed on their last voyage to the breaking yards from the ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg in the spring of 2012.


[The Prosecutor presented evidence that Seatrade was planning on selling the ships via a cash-buyer in order to maximize financial gain. In e-mail exchanges between Seatrade and Baltic Union Shipbrokers, cash buyer GMS offered the highest price for special parts of at least one of the vessels. The end-sale was not to GMS, but another undisclosed cash buyer.] According to the Prosecutor, Seatrade opted for using a cash buyer, rather than recycling the ships in a safe and clean manner, for purely financial reasons. [Cash buyers, such as GMS, are] infamous scrap-dealers specialized in bringing ships to the beaches of South Asia, where the price of end-of-life vessels is higher due to the exploitation of migrant laborers and to weak, or no, enforcement of safety and environmental standards. According to the Prosecutor, that Seatrade knowingly sold the vessels for dirty and dangerous breaking in order to maximize profits further aggravates the charge [2].


Despite ongoing criminal investigations, Seatrade sold two more ships – the SINA and ELLAN – for dirty and dangerous breaking on the beach in Alang, India, in August 2017”, says Ingvild Jenssen, Founder and Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “This case adds itself to the growing demand, including from investors and major shipping banks, for better ship recycling practices”, she adds.


Authorities in Norway, Belgium, and the UK will be paying close attention to the verdict of the case. Similar cases are currently being investigated there, involving shipping companies such as Maersk and CMB, as well as the world’s largest cash-buyers GMS and Wirana.





[1] Ships contain many substances that are toxic within their structure, including asbestos, heavy metals and residue oils. Since Seatrade specializes in transporting refrigerated goods, all the vessels additionally contained chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs), a substance which is known to cause ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere. The Montreal Protocol (on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer), which entered into force in 1989, has since its adoption phased out and prohibited the use of CFCs.


[2] Earlier this year the world largest private investor, the Norwegian Oil Pension Fund, divested from four shipping companies due to their poor shipbreaking practices. They also argued that selling a vessel to a beaching yard “is a consequence of an active choice on the part of the company that owned the vessel to maximise its profit”.


Press Release – NGOs and trade unions denounce certification issued to PHP yard by classification society RINA

In October, the PHP Family (Peace Happiness and Prosperity) shipbreaking yard received a Statement of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention [1] by the Italian classification society RINA. Trade unions in Bangladesh, as well as the Platform’s member Bangladesh Institute for Labour Studies (BILS), are concerned that such a labelling sets a dangerous precedent for the further green-washing of the Chittagong beaching yards. Workers and the environment are not protected as long as ships are broken on the beach, and as long as fundamental labour rights and proper infrastructure are not secured.


PHP is run by a renowned business family in Chittagong, who also runs activities in the steel re-rolling and construction industries, and owns TV channels. Trade unions made a formal request to represent the workers at the PHP yard, but the management has systematically rejected the workers’ right to freedom of association, and employees that have strongly engaged in demanding respect of workers’ rights have even been fired. Any worker association or NGO which does not praise PHP is received with hostility and is not even allowed to visit the yard. As reported yesterday by the Platform, accidents at the PHP shipbreaking yard continue to happen.


It is shocking that a company that rejects legitimate trade union activities can be stamped as operating in line with international laws”, says Nazim Uddin, local trade union leader and Bangladesh representative at IndustriALL.


Despite some investments in the PHP yard to concrete parts of the upper beach, the severe deficiencies in infrastructure for the containment of toxics renders any statement of compliance with pollution prevention standards ludicrous. When vessels are cut in the intertidal zone, toxics are inevitably released in the sea. The entire Chittagong area is heavily polluted, and there is no means for any beaching yard to handle and dispose hazardous waste, such as oil residues, heavy metals and asbestos, in a safe and environmentally sound manner. The Hong Kong Convention’s ship recycling requirements stop at the gate of the yard, therefore the fact that Bangladesh still has no waste treatment facility for general waste, let alone for the toxic materials coming from ships, is completely overlooked by the Convention. Statements of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention are clearly no guarantee that the environment and workers are protected from the many risks connected to the heavy and hazardous industry of ship recycling.


That a beaching yard in Chittagong is able to comply with the Hong Kong Convention tells us a lot about the extremely low standard set by the International Maritime Organisation”, said Ingvild Jenssen, Director and Founder of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “Any ship owner looking for a safe and clean location for the recycling of their ship will be wise to disregard the very misleading Statements of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention, and instead consult the upcoming EU List of approved ship recycling facilities”, she adds.


An aerial view of the PHP shipbreaking yard – 2017 – © Google Earth

* Updated on 26 January 2018 – Quote by Nazim Uddin changed following his request




[1] Statements of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention were first issued to beaching yards by the Japanese company Class NK in Alang, India, last year. Other classification societies, such as RINA and the Indian Ship Registry, have now entered the business of issuing these statements, and a total of 47 yards have received such statements in India, whilst PHP is the first, and so far, the only one in Bangladesh.


Platform News – Atlantic Container Line steaming for sunshine

Grimaldi Group’s subsidiary ACL illegally exports toxic waste to South Asia, while authorities are inert


During the summer, the Swedish-flagged ATLANTIC CARTIER and ATLANTIC CONVEYOR, the two last G3 vessels operated by the Italian Grimaldi Group’s subsidiary Atlantic Container Line (ACL), were sold for demolition. The German competent authorities were alerted about the imminent illegal export of the ships from the port of Hamburg and prompted to take action to stop the vessels from departing. Despite the warnings and the clear signs that the ships were destined for scrap, the authorities did not halt the ships. The ATLANTIC CARTIER arrived in Alang, India, on the 20th of September, and the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR hit the beach on the 7th of October, after vessel tracking providers curiously indicated that the container carrier was “Steaming 4 Sunshine”.



International waste laws and the EU Waste Shipment Regulation are usually circumvented by ship owners who falsely declare that end-of-life ships are in continued operational use when leaving a port, thereby concealing the fact that they are destined for scrapping and have, therefore, become a waste. The cases of the CARTIER and the CONVEYOR are no exception.


The German authorities were not the only ones that have been contacted before the vessels’ final voyage. Also authorities from Canada and the UK, countries through which the CARTIER and the CONVEYOR sailed before arriving in Hamburg for their last EU port call, knew that the ships had been sold to the beach; yet, when questioned, ACL did not reveal that the ships were sold for breaking. Once having left the EU, both vessels operated for a short while in South-Eastern Africa – still under the same name, flag and ownership – waiting for the attention on them to fade. During that time, ACL contacted the Swedish authorities asking for advice on which steps should be taken if the company decided to recycle the ships. Despite the recommendations of Sweden to scrap the vessels in the EU or in an OECD country, there was no way to ensure that these recommendations would be followed, since at that point the ships were no longer in the EU. Rather, it is clear that this communication was a way for ACL to make it seem like the company had acted diligently by seeking advice from the flag-state, as well as to fraudulently make it seem as the decision to dispose of the container carriers was only taken once outside of EU waters.


According to the German port authorities, there was no evidence base for the arrest of the vessels, even though the logos of both the CARTIER and the CONVEYOR had been painted over before the final voyage. Moreover, it was well-known within the industry that these two sister ships would be sold for breaking in the summer, as ACL itself indicated that the ships would be scrapped on the cash-buyer GMS’ website last year. In light of this, the Platform has recently sent aletter to the German authorities asking them to hold Grimaldi Group’s ACL accountable for having breached European waste laws.


End-of-life sales to South Asian yards are done with the help of a cash-buyer, a company specialised in trading end-of-life vessels to the dirty and dangerous beaching yards. It is not the first time that Grimaldi Group sends its ships to be broken on the beaches: the ATLANTIC CONCERT and ATLANTIC COMPASS were beached in Alang last year. In 2016, during an official meeting in Rome, the Platform raised serious concerns regarding the more than 90 Italian-owned end-of-life vessels that had been sent to dirty and dangerous scrapping yards in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan in the last seven years. The Platform advised the Italian Ship Owners Association, including representatives of Grimaldi Group, to stop selling their end-of-life vessels to unscrupulous cash buyers, and urged the Italian ship owners to ensure the safe and environmentally sound recycling of their ships. Hence, it is clear that the Platform’s message has not been taken into consideration.


Platform News – Investigations ongoing after Norwegian authorities press charges against owners of Harrier

The HARRIER is still under arrest in Norway after its owners failed to illegally set sail for the dangerous and dirty scrapping yards in Gadani, Pakistan, last February. The owners are now forced to find a safe and environmentally sound recycling destination. In parallel, investigations are still ongoing following the charges pressed by the Norwegian environmental authorities against the owners of the TIDE CARRIER for having attempted to breach existing waste trade laws [1].


At the edge of bankruptcy, Eide Group sold the previously named EIDE CARRIER, which had been laid up for 10 years, to cash buyer Wirana, a scrap dealer specialized in trading toxic ships to dirty and dangerous scrapping yards in South Asia. Wirana registered the vessel under an anonymous Saint Kitts and Nevis post box company called Julia Shipping Inc. The ship was renamed TIDE CARRIER and supposedly changed registry to the Paris MoU black-listed flag of Comoros. Based on fraudulent information that the vessel was heading for repair works in the Middle-East, Norwegian authorities allowed the ship to leave the west coast of Norway on 22 February 2017.


Had Wirana disclosed that the true destination was the beach of Gadani in Pakistan the vessel would not have been allowed to depart: exporting ships for dirty and dangerous scrapping is illegal under international waste trade laws. All ships contain many toxic materials within their structure and in their paints and the law requires that these should be managed in a way that protects people and the environment from harm. Extremely low operating standards at the beaching yards enable them to offer higher prices for the ships than facilities that operate in line with safety and environmental norms. Wirana knows this and the law very well, and for the sake of extra profits they therefore presented a fake contract for repairs in Oman.


However, the ship’s deteriorating condition caused the engine to stop only hours after its departure. Despite stormy weather, the vessel’s new captain from Nabeel Ship Management did not call for help. The risk of oil spill and grounding close to one of the most known beaches in Norway was high and was only dodged thanks to the Norwegian coastguard’s decision to trigger a salvage operation. An environmental disaster in Norway was avoided, and with the arrest of the ship in April the Norwegian authorities effectively averted another environmental injustice on the Gadani beach, where it was actually destined for scrap. Less than a year ago Gadani saw the worst shipbreaking catastrophe of the industry’s history[2].


Already in the summer of 2015, the Platform was informed that the vessel had been sold for breaking. Confronted with the illegality of exporting the ship to South Asia, Eide Group denied that the vessel would be scrapped at the time. One and a half years later, after the ship had been salvaged and was laid up in Gismarvik, the Environment Agency and the police found evidence that the vessel was under a “break up voyage” insurance from Norway to Gadani, Pakistan. That, and the fact that the contact person for Julia Shipping Inc in the sales contract that dated from summer 2015 is Keyur J. Dave, Chief Financial Officer at Wirana, are clear indicators that the vessel was headed to a scrap yard in Pakistan when it left Norway. All vessels broken in South Asia pass via the hands of a cash buyer. Singapore-based Wirana and US-based GMS are the two largest cash buyers, both of which are inherently entangled with the South Asian breakers.


Consequently, it became clear that the repair contract in Oman which had been provided to the Norwegian authorities as a way to escape checks for the illegal export of the vessel was false. The Norwegian Environment Ministry therefore rejected the complaint of Julia Shipping Inc, represented by law firm Wikborg Rein, for the arrest order. The post-box company Julia Shipping Inc refuses to reveal its ownership structure. To further point to the lack of accountability, the Norwegian newspaper, Bergens Tidende, revealed in a longer article, published in August, that when the Norwegian authorities had contacted the Comoros registry regarding the TIDE CARRIER, the Comoros registry answered that they did not have any information about the ship being registered under their flag. Only days later the vessel changed name again to HARRIER and swapped flags again to that of another Paris MoU black-listed flag: Palau. Both Comoros and Palau are popular end-of-life flags. In 2016, out of 668 ships that were beached, 42 had the flag of Palau and 47 were beached under the flag of Comoros. The now-called HARRIER is not allowed to leave Norway unless it is to sail to a ship recycling destination in line with international and European hazardous waste laws.


In the meantime the owners of the HARRIER owe the private port of Gismarvik and GMC Maritime several million NOK as port fees. The vessel left Gismarvik in June and is now anchored off the coast of Farsund where two crew members remain confined onboard the ship and the continuous use of the ship’s engine is creating unneglectable nuisance to local inhabitants.


© Jon Ingemundsen

This is not the first time that cash buyers seek to circumvent environmental protection laws by providing fake sales or repair contracts. The Norwegian owned CITY OF TOKYO was allowed to leave the port of Antwerp under the pretense of repair work in Dubai – instead it sailed directly to the infamous beaching yards in Bangladesh. The FPSO NORTH SEA PRODUCER was also illegally exported from the UK to Bangladesh under the pretense of further operational use in Nigeria. Cash buyer GMS used grey- and black listed Paris MoU flags and established anonymous post box companies in both cases.


The TIDE CARRIER case reveals the typical business practices of ship owners and cash buyers, and adds to several other cases where authorities have been lied to and provided false information as a way to escape checks for the illegal export of end-of-life ships. At least in the TIDE CARRIER case, the Norwegian authorities have so far not been gullible to fall for the well-known tricks of the game.





[1] See the Norwegian environmental authorities’ press release.

[2] See also our release on a second accident that took place earlier this year.


Platform News – NGOs maintain pressure on owners and scrap dealers of FPSO North Sea Producer


16 August of last year the FPSO NORTH SEA PRODUCER was beached in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The ship was allowed to leave the UK based on the false promise that it would be further operationally used in the Tin Can port in Nigeria. One year on, the battle to hold the owners and cash buyers accountable for the illegal export of the FPSO is not over.


The North Sea Producer (ex Dagmar Maersk) was deployed in the McCulloch field in the North Sea, transporting and extracting oil from the UK continental shelf for 17 years, and was owned by the North Sea Production Company, a single-ship joint venture between the Danish A.P. Moeller Maersk and the Brazilian Odebrecht. Once the field closed, the NORTH SEA PRODUCER was laid up in Teesport for a year while the owners were looking for buyers. For scrapping purposes the ship was only allowed to be sold to a facility within the OECD as any export of hazardous waste outside the OECD is in breach of International and EU law. However, selling the FPSO to a recycler that could safely handle all the hazards of the ship within the OECD would have meant that the owners would not have made as big a profit as selling it to less scrupulous breakers operating on tidal beaches in South Asia. Maersk and Odebrecht thus settled to sell the ship to the largest vessels’ scrap dealer, cash buyer GMS, through a St. Kitts and Nevis post box company called Conquistador Shipping Corporation, and provided the UK authorities with a false contract stating that the NORTH SEA PRODUCER had found a new owner who would operate the ship in Nigeria.


Despite the vessel being under the radar of local communities in Teesside and was well-known in the shipping industry for needing to be scrapped, the UK authorities relied on the false contract to allow the FPSO to leave on tug. The NORTH SEA PRODUCER was then directly towed all the way from the UK, around the African continent, to Bangladesh. NGOs were quick to alert both the UK and Bangladesh governments of the illegal export [1]. It was only once the FPSO had left the UK – and after the case was strongly criticised in Danish and international press – that Maersk was “very, very sorry” that Conquistador Shipping Corporation apparently took the independent decision to beach the NORTH SEA PRODUCER in Chittagong for dirty and dangerous scrapping. Maersk has since claimed in its Sustainability Report 2016 that it has cut all commercial ties with the buyer of the NORTH SEA PRODUCER: an obviously meaningless statement if that implies cutting ties with a single-ship post box company. Maersk however still refuses to admit that they sold the ship to GMS, the largest waste traffickers in end-of-life ships, as doing so would clearly indicate that they knew all along that the ship would directly head to a scrap yard. It was evident that the bungalow in St Kitts and Nevis, where Conquistador Shipping Corporation was just the shell company set up by GMS to make it look like it was sold to a legitimate buyer, would not further operate the FPSO. Or was Maersk fooled by the tricks of the trade? Did they really believe that the ship would continue to operate under the ownership of the world’s largest scrap dealer? Chances are they were not fooled at all, but were in fact orchestrators of an illegal export alongside GMS.


Once the ship arrived at Janata Steel in Chittagong, and upon alerts issued by local NGOs, the Bangladesh Attorney General of the Department of Environment set up a special committee to determine the presence of contaminated residues, and to investigate the ship’s illegal import due to lack of necessary clearances and false claims that it was hazardous-free. Having operated in the North Sea, the vessel’s pipelines are likely to contain residues contaminated by radioactive materials and sulphur. Other toxics, such as asbestos and heavy metals, are contained within the structure and paints of the ship. Upon a request from the Platform’s member organisation Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (BELA), the report on the ship’s condition was released in June: it’s conclusion was that radioactive residues were found upon inspection and that further surveys needed to be carried out on the whole ship. BELA subsequently succeeded in getting an injunction on the breaking of the North Sea Producer until October, which is when the Court will resume the case after the Eid recess.

The North Sea Producer beached in Chittagong – © NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In the UK, the Platform demanded the Secretary of State for Environment, Andrea Leadsom, to investigate the illegal export from Teesport [2]. DEFRA has been looking into the case for nine months now, and the Platform recently requested that they share information on their findings and on the action which they will be taking against the fraudulent and illegal export. In parallel Danish parliamentarians have been questioning the Environment Minister, Esben Lunde Larsen, on what actions Denmark can take to hold Maersk accountable.


One year on since the beaching of the NORTH SEA PRODUCER, the story is thus far from over. One year on and there are legal proceedings in the exporting state, the UK, and the importing state, Bangladesh, to hold Maersk, Odebrecht, GMS and the importers accountable for their illegal trade of a highly toxic and particularly risky ship to dismantle.





[1] See our release.


[2] Read the letter.


Press Release – Controversial Tide Carrier under arrest in Norway

Attempt to illegally export the ship to Pakistan revealed


After having been informed by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and its member organisation Bellona that the TIDE CARRIER (now named HARRIER, aka EIDE CARRIER) had been sold for illegal, dirty and dangerous scrapping to a South Asian beaching facility, the Norwegian environmental authorities arrested the ship on Tuesday 5 April [1]. The vessel is not allowed to leave Norway unless it is to sail to a ship recycling destination in line with international and European hazardous waste laws. According to the Norwegian Environment Agency, it is the first arrest of a vessel in Norway for the illegal export of hazardous waste.


The Platform had been informed already during the summer of 2015 that the ship was sold for scrap. Having been laid up for many years on the Norwegian west coast the Platform immediately contacted the Norwegian owners Eide Group to make them aware of the laws governing end-of-life ships and that exporting the vessel to a South Asian beaching yard would be in breach of the European Waste Shipment Regulation and the UN Basel Convention. Eide Group denied then that the vessel would be scrapped.


On 22 February 2017 the vessel attempted to leave Norway under a new name, flag and registered owner. Now called TIDE CARRIER, the ship had swapped its flag to that of Comoros and was registered under an anonymous St. Kitts and Nevis based post-box company, Julia Shipping - all solid indications that a cash buyer, a scrap dealer specialised in the trading of end-of-life ships to the South Asian beaching yards, was involved.


The TIDE CARRIER however ran into difficulties as the engine stopped working outside the Norwegian coast of Jaeren. The coastguards were forced to trigger a salvage operation, complicated by way of the weather conditions, to avoid the risk of oil spill and grounding close to one of the most renowned beaches in Norway. The rescue operation included the emergency evacuation of 5 crew members - one of which suffered from a broken shoulder – and the deployment of two tugboats to bring the ship to safety.


Norwegian authorities have since then been trying to trace the owner and insurer of the vessel, given that someone should be held accountable for the costs of the rescue operation incurred by the Norwegian state. While the authorities investigated the ownership and condition of the vessel, it remained docked in Gismarvik, Norway.

"We immediately informed Norwegian authorities that the ship was most likely sold for scrapping in South Asia and also that there were suspicions that the ship had been used to store hazardous sludge."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

On Monday 4 April the Environment Agency and the Police found evidence that the vessel was under a “break up voyage” insurance from Norway to Gadani, Pakistan. They also found unidentified and excessive amounts of sludge and fuel oils. The previous week, while the vessel was still in the dock, the TIDE CARRIER changed name to HARRIER and changed from Comoros to another popular end-of-life flag: Palau. Consequently, it became clear that the repair contract from the Middle-East which had been provided to the Norwegian authorities as a way to escape checks for the illegal export of the vessel was false. Revelations of the attempt of the ship’s illegal export and subsequent breaking on the Gadani beach resulted in the arrest of the ship.


This is not the first time cash buyers seek to circumvent environmental protection laws by providing fake contracts of repair or further operational use. Recently the Norwegian owned CITY OF TOKYO was allowed to leave the port of Antwerp under the pretense of repair work in Dubai – instead it sailed directly to the infamous beaching yards in Bangladesh. The FPSO NORTH SEA PRODUCER was also illegally exported from the UK to Bangladesh under the pretense of further operational use in Nigeria [2]. Cash buyer GMS used grey- and black listed Paris MoU flags and established anonymous post box companies in both cases.

"The cash buyers of TIDE CARRIER will not only have to pay back the Norwegian authorities for the rescue operation, but will also have to answer for the fake repair documents which were used to let it sail in the first place. Norwegian owner Eide will have to be held responsible for having sold to a cash buyer as this clearly indicates their complicity in the attempt to illegally export the ship and the potentially toxic excess sludges and fuels found on board."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform
© LN Kyv/The NCA

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2016

European ship owners top the list of global dumpers: the EU must do more to reverse this scandal


Read our country-specific press releases:
Brazil | Germany | Greece | Italy


The list of all ships dismantled around the world in 2016, which the NGO Shipbreaking Platform has compiled and analysed, shows no improvements of the shipping industry’s management of its end-of-life vessels. Far from it: the Platform today releases data that indicate an increase in the number of ships sold for polluting and unsafe shipbreaking on the beaches of South Asia. In 2016, a total of 668 vessels were broken on tidal beaches, that is as much as 87% of all tonnage dismantled globally.

"The shipping industry is nowhere close to ensuring sustainable ship recycling practices. Last year, we saw not only an increase in the market share for dangerous and dirty shipbreaking, but also a record-breaking number of EU-owned vessels on the South Asian beaches. A jaw-dropping 84% of all European end-of-life ships ended up in either India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. Beaching yards are not only well known for their failure to respect international environmental protection standards, but also for their disrespect of fundamental labour rights and international waste trade law."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

A higher number of ships beached means that workers, the environment and local communities in South Asia are exposed to ever increased hardship. 2016 saw the worst catastrophe in the history of the industry: on 1 November, at least 28 workers were killed instantly and more than 50 injured when an explosion and a massive fire shook a tanker beached in Gadani, Pakistan. The death toll in the Bangladeshi yards, which the Platform was able to document, reached 22 in 2016, with another 29 workers having suffered serious injuries. Whilst accident records in Indian shipbreaking yards are kept a secret, the Platform was informed of at least two fatal deaths in Alang.


DUMPERS 2016 - Worst practices


The worst dumper prize goes to IDAN OFER, son of shipping magnate Sammy Ofer. Idan Ofer owns QUANTUM PACIFIC GROUP and has a controlling stake in It may seem a big surprise for a country whose industry is proud of green technology and engineering solutions, but GERMANY is responsible for the worst shipbreaking practices amongst all shipping nations when one compares the size of its fleet to the number of ships broken irresponsibly. German owners, banks and ship funds had a staggering 97 ships rammed up on the beaches of South Asia out of a total of 99 vessels sold for demolition: 98% of all obsolete German ships ended up on a beach! That not being enough, close to 40% were broken in Bangladesh, where conditions are known to be the worst. Amongst the most irresponsible owners are Hansa Mare with 12 ships, Alpha Ship, F. Laeisz and Peter Doehle with 7 each, and Dr. Peters, König & Cie, Norddeutsche Vermögen and Rickmers with 6 each.


The German shipbreaking practices come with a high death toll. During the breaking period of the RENATE N. at Seiko shipbreaking in Chittagong, Bangladesh, three workers were killed and three more injured (see “Accidents” in the Platform’s South Asia Quarterly Update). The vessel owned by Neu Seeschifffahrt had been traded through cash buyer Wirana. Even the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights expressed serious concerns in a submission to the German Government, criticizing the substandard practices of German owners. In November, another Bangladeshi worker was killed during the demolition of the only 10 year-old, loss-making container ship VIKOTRIA WULFF.


“It is not the first time that shipbreaking workers pay with their lives for the failed business practices of German ship owners and their ship funds. Due to numerous bankruptcies resulting from short-sighted and high-risk investment, insolvency administrators appointed by the courts quickly trade the unprofitable ships to the beaches of South Asia, and the bill for the shipping industry’s greed is paid by people and the environment”, comments Patrizia Heidegger.


GREECE was responsible for the highest absolute number of ships sold to South Asian shipbreaking yards in 2016: 104 ships in total. Since the Platform has started to compile data in 2009, Greek shipping companies have unceasingly topped the list of owners that opt for dirty and dangerous shipbreaking. Backed by the Greek government, they continue to refuse liability for the damage done to workers and the environment. A Greek ship beached in Pakistan in December 2016 caused the death of five workers in January when a fire broke out on the GAZ FOUNTAIN owned by Athens-based Naftomar.


The worst corporate dumper prize goes to the UK-based ZODIAC. The company is operated out of London and owned by Eyal Ofer, son of late shipping magnate Sammy Ofer. Zodiac alone has sold 12 ships for breaking on the beaches in 2016, mostly to Bangladesh, and the company has been linked to severe accidents. During the demolition of Ofer’s ship SNOWDON, beached in Pakistan in October, a worker was killed in January this year. Eyal’s brother Idan, owner of the QUANTUM PACIFIC GROUP and holder of a controlling stake in the ISRAEL CORPORATION, received the worst dumper award in 2015 for selling most of his end-of-life vessels to Bangladesh breakers – a more than dubious practice for a family that wants to be known for its philanthropy.


"It is scandalous that the burden to deal with Europe’s profit-greedy shipbuilding boom is shifted to communities and workers in South Asia: first the shipping industry creates a large overcapacity on the market, and then it fails to find responsible solutions for its obsolete ships."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In 2016, also Maersk decided to take a U-turn on its previously progressive ship recycling policy: the Danish container ship giant decided to go back to the shipbreaking beaches of India where it is offered higher prices for its unwanted ships. Being one of the catalysts of the overcapacity on the shipping market itself, Maersk has to get rid of 75 – 100 ships in the coming years.

"This move to boost profits does not only help to rubberstamp the beaching method, but, very regrettably, it is also stalling real progress and innovation in India to move ship recycling to the next level – off the beach – to modern ship recycling facilities."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Ship owners sell their vessels to South Asian yards via cash-buyers, companies that specialise in the trade of end-of-life tonnage. Cash-buyers promise ship owners not only the highest price, but also to rid them of their responsibility to properly deal with the end-of-life management of their ships. [2] Ships contain large amounts of toxic materials such as oil sludge, asbestos and paints laden with heavy metals and would yield less profit at end-of-life if sold to a recycling facility that firmly follows environmental and occupational health and safety standards.


The data compiled by the Platform also show that ship owners continue to shield themselves from responsibility through the use of cash buyers such as GMS and Wirana. These scrap dealers reflag end-of-life vessels to last-voyage flags of convenience, such as Palau, Comoros and St Kitts and Nevis, and sell them off for the highest price offered by the worst yards.

"Looking at the flags used at end-of-life, it is clear that legislation based on flag state jurisdiction will not be able to bring substantial change to the current practices: who believes that a non-compliant flag and a cash buyer benefitting from the worst conditions will enforce improvements in shipbreaking yards? The global shipbreaking crisis can only be solved through measures that go beyond flag state jurisdiction. That is why we call on the EU to demand a ship recycling licence from all vessels visiting EU ports."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In 2017, the EU will publish a list of ship recycling facilities around the world that comply with high standards for environmental protection and workers’ safety. The list will be the first of its kind and an important reference point for sustainable ship recycling. German container line Hapag-Lloyd has already committed its end-of-life ships off the beach, and has announced that it will only use EU listed facilities. A financial incentive affecting ships trading with the EU is however needed to ensure that irresponsible ship owners are directed towards the facilities listed as approved by the EU. A proposed Ship Recycling Licence scheme is now being discussed. The many scandals involving European shipping companies are also a driver behind the strong interest that various financial institutions have started to show in ship recycling: to ensure responsible business practices some are now setting criteria for shipping companies they finance while looking at the EU Ship Recycling Regulation for guidance.


For the list of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2016, click here.
For detailed figures and analysis on ships dismantled in 2016, click here.
For background information on global ship dismantling practices, click here.




Platform News – Shooting and fatal accidents at Kabir shipbreaking: Belgian ship owner CMB, Greek Kanellakis Group and Standard Chartered linked

Standard Chartered Bank, Belgian ship owner CMB / Bocimar as well as the Greek Kanellakis Group are linked to Kabir Steel, a Bangladeshi shipbreaking yard and re-rolling mill with a particularly bad accident record where private security guards shot at locals protesting the death of worker Sumon on 28 March [1]. The leading Flemish daily newspaper De Standaard has analysed CMB’s substandard shipbreaking practices in a two page article published last Friday showing how the Antwerp-based shipping company uses cash buyers to rid itself of financial and legal risks. The Platform calls on these European companies to ensure that their value chain neither contributes to such negative human rights impacts nor to hazardous waste dumping and pollution in Bangladesh.


Whilst NGOs and international trade unions have called upon the police to impartially investigate the circumstances of the recent shooting episode at Kabir Steel, it is no secret that the Chittagong-based firm, which runs shipbreaking yards at two different plots as well as a local steel re-rolling mill, has a particularly bad accident record. In January 2014, three workers suffered severe burn injuries in an explosion on a tanker beached at the yard. Only after Platform members took up their case did the men receive treatment and support. The case received both local and international media attention, and the CEO of the Norwegian ship owner Teekay Corporation, whose vessel was involved in the incident, publicly stated that the company will stop selling ships to substandard yards. Early in 2014, two more workers, Jafar and Lipton, were injured and taken to hospital. In August 2014, worker Afzal died in the hospital after an accident at Kabir, and a second, unidentified man suffered injuries. In September 2014, 20 year old Asad Mia was killed at Kabir’s re-rolling mill to which the scrap steel is taken.


The London-headquartered Standard Chartered bank has, according to local informants, been issuing letters of credit or loans to Kabir Steel for the import of end-of-life vessels. The Platform has sent a letter to Standard Chartered’s management asking why the bank is working with a yard that clearly operates in breach of Standard Chartered’s own ship recycling policy: according to this policy the bank will only work with yards that meet international workers’ rights and environmental protection standards.

"None of the shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh operate in line with international standards for the environmentally sound management of hazardous waste as there are no waste treatment facilities available. Occupational health and safety measures are absent or inadequate as accidents regularly show. Most workers do not receive a living wage and any protest against the conditions can easily lead to losing one’s job. We do not believe that a bank such as Standard Chartered should be associated to such practices. [2]"
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Leading banks, amongst them ABN AMRO, are cooperating with companies to invest in sustainable ship recycling in industrial platforms.


Also major European shipping companies are linked to the dangerous and dirty shipbreaking practices at Kabir Steel. The end-of life vessels currently being scrapped on the beach of Kabir Steel shipbreaking are the ALPHA FRIENDSHIP and the MINERAL WATER. The ALPHA FRIENDSHIP’s was sold to Kabir Steel for scrapping by Greek Kanellakis Group with the help of cash buyer Wirana. The ship owner is part of a group of shipping companies controlled by the influential Kanellakis and Angelicoussis family. The vessel arrived in Bangladesh this January while still registered under the Greek flag.

"The EU Ship Recycling Regulation sets high standards for ship recycling, and once it becomes applicable end-of-life sales like this will constitute a clear breach of European law. Greek owners top the list of worst end-of-life ship dumpers. It is high time that the Greek Government holds its shipping industry accountable for practices that put peoples’ lives and the environment in danger."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The MINERAL WATER was sold to Kabir Steel by Belgian ship owner CMB N.V. S.A. and its wholly-owned Belgian subsidiary Bocimar International with the help of cash buyer Western Overseas. CMB is an Antwerp-based company specialised in bulk carriers. It is controlled by the well-known Saverys family who also holds major stakes in other leading Belgian ship-owning companies, Exmar, Euronav and Delphis. The MINERAL WATER swapped its Belgian flag to that of Niue just weeks before hitting the beach in Chittagong mid-February. Niue, a Pacific island with around 2000 inhabitants, is on the European Union’s blacklist of the world’s 30 worst-offending tax havens and has recently come up as a new low-cost flag of convenience for end-of-life vessels.

"The example of the CMB vessel shows how easy it is for ship owners to circumvent any regulation based on flag state jurisdiction. Flag of convenience states such as Niue are not likely to strictly enforce or even ratify international law. The real ship-owning nations such as Belgium cannot continue to rely on tax havens and substandard shipbreaking countries to ensure sustainable ship recycling. At the European level a financial incentive to ensure better practices is being discussed – Belgium and other Member States should support this."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The Platform is calling upon the European Union, where more than 40% of the world fleet is controlled, to ensure that ship owners cannot further exploit underpaid workers exposed to extremely dangerous working conditions and the absence of properly enforced environmental protection standards.





[1] As reported by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform , private security guards employed by Kabir Steel shipbreaking, injured at least seven workers and locals when they gathered at the yard’s gate in protest of the death of Summon. The young man had been killed when he was hit by a truck transporting material from the shipbreaking yard. The yard management had first refused responsibility for the accident as the truck was owned by another company. The Platform and its local member organisations as well as Bangladeshi and international trade unions have strongly criticized the use of violence against protestors. They have both called on Kabir Steel to pay compensation owed to the victim’s family, and on the police and judiciary to properly and independently investigate the case to bring those responsible to justice. Meanwhile, Kabir has paid compensation to the victim’s family and those injured by bullets.


[2] For more information on the conditions at the shipbreaking yards in Chittagong, see short video by National Geographic.



One of the victims, worker Afzal, who died at Kabir Steel mill in 2014



Press Release – Bangladesh High Court issues contempt rule against 14 Government Officials: ministries and shipbreakers asked to account for non-compliance with 2009 judgement

The Bangladesh High Court yesterday issued a contempt rule asking 14 Government officials and the president of the Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association (BSBA) to explain why they have not implemented the Court’s judgement dating March 2009. The Court now demands arguments from the respondents as to why they should not be held responsible for contempt of the court’s rulings and “for deliberately and persistently ignoring safety of the workers and safety and integrity of the environment”. The Government was also meant to form an independent committee for the impartial supervision of the shipbreaking activities. The Court decision is the result of a contempt petition submitted by the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), the Platform member organisation that has been fighting in the courts against the shipbreaking industry’s violation of the law since 2003.

"This step taken by the High Court fundamentally challenges the apathy of the Government agencies in regulating the shipbreaking sector as well as the strong culture of impunity the owners of ship‎breaking yards enjoy due to their political connections. This must end. We cannot accept any more deaths of labourers and someone has to finally take responsibility for the fatal accidents."
Rizwana Hasan - Chief Executive - Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)

BELA has also asked the Court to suspend the activities of 42 shipbreaking yards. In the case of 37 yards, BELA has accused the companies of unsafe working conditions resulting in accidents and deaths, and for 7 yards BELA has provided information on how these companies violate the requirements for their environmental clearances. BELA is gathering more evidence so the number of yards to be closed is likely to raise even further.

"Despite the high-profile Court order given in March 2009, both the shipbreaking industry and responsible ministries have remained inactive in addressing the pressing issues related to both occupational health and safety and to environmental pollution and hazardous waste dumping. We insist that they will not be allowed to get off lightly yet another time."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In March 2009, the High Court had ruled that the Government is to set up a committee to ensure the impartial supervision of the shipbreaking industry. The Court also found that the shipbreaking yards did not hold the necessary environmental clearance to operate. As a consequence, the yards were temporarily shut down. The Court demanded that the Government comply with the requirements under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. This included the respect for Prior Informed Consent (PIC), that is, the approval by Bangladesh of the import of ships based on the amount of toxics on board the end-of-life vessels.


The political clout of the shipbreaking industry, amongst them members of Parliament and other powerful politicians as well as some of the most influential industrialists in the country, managed hastily issued environmental clearances for their yards. For the import of end-of-life vessels to Bangladesh, the authorities blindly accept fake certificates stating that all the old ships are free of hazardous waste. The authorities never ask anyone to follow the procedure of Prior Informed Consent. The independent Committee, which according to the Court should also include non-government organisations and labour unions, has never been made functional – thus, there is no impartial supervision of the industry. BELA argues that at least 93 workers have died since the 2009 Court order. All this has passed without consequences.


Both the shipbreaking industry and the Government of Bangladesh are now asked to give account of their actions. If they fail to produce sufficient arguments, responsible persons are likely to be sentenced and yards may be closed down.


Click here to access The Daily Star's article covering the issue.


Workers without personal protective equipment, Chittagong shipyards, 2014 Copyrights: NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 2014