Press Release – NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents Annual Report 2017

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents its Annual Report 2017.


The NGO Shipbreaking Platform works to ensure that vessels are recycled without causing harm to workers and the environment. Thanks to our continued efforts, concerned policy makers, progressive investors and banks, and law enforcers are now echoing the Platform’s demand. Read more about this in our new Annual Report.


We need your support to effectively prevent the human rights abuses and environmental injustice provoked when ships are traded to dirty and dangerous breaking yards! Share this publication and make a donation.

Download the Platform’s Annual Report 2017 here.


Platform News – Problems of shipbreaking presented at the 2018 Vicino/Lontano Festival

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is grateful to have participated in the 2018 Vicino/Lontano Festival, which was held from 10 May to 13 May in Udine, Italy.


The Vicino/Lontano Festival has, since its very beginning, been closely linked to the figure of journalist and writer Tiziano Terzani, to whose memory the Festival’s annual literary prize is dedicated. It encompasses a broad range of initiatives and events, including debates, discussion forums, seminars, lectures, exhibitions, performances and screenings. Scholars, journalists, writers and artists of international renown gather together to analyze the economic, social, cultural, and geopolitical trends currently impacting our globalized world, and, in the process, attempt to reach a better understanding of the forces and mechanisms driving global change and how these are likely to shape future realities.


The photo exhibition ‘With Bare Hands – The human and environmental costs of shipbreaking’, an extract from a web documentary done by Tomaso Clavarino and Isacco Chiaf, was the Platform’s entry to this year’s festival edition that focused on global inequalities. In 2016, Clavarino, journalist and photographer, and Chiaf, video maker and graphic designer, travelled to Bangladesh and India, where dirty and dangerous scrapping is conducted on the tidal beaches of Chittagong and Alang. With texts, infographics, videos, photo-essays, interviews and maps, they have been able to show how shipbreaking activities are contributing to the destruction of the ecosystem and negatively affecting the lives of thousands of people.



The official inauguration of the exhibition took place on 11 May at the gallery MAKE. With the presence of Vicino/Lontano’s vice-president and the City Councillor responsible for culture, Clavarino and Nicola Mulinaris, the Platform’s communication officer, introduced the audience to the topic of shipbreaking, highlighting its international dimension and negative impacts.


What impressed me the most during the days spent in Bangladesh and India, besides the extremely inhuman working conditions and evident pollution, was the difficulty to access this industry. That journalists and photographers are not welcome was clearly communicated. We still managed to penetrate this extremely closed industry – and the devastating stories we documented cannot be ignored”, said Tomaso Clavarino.


In the last two years, With Bare Hands, which was funded by the European Journalism Centre, has been published in several international media outlets [1]. The Platform, with the support of its member organisation Legambiente and the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, presented the project to the public in the form of photo exhibition also at the European Parliament in Brussels (June 2017) and at RED La Feltrinelli in Rome (January 2018).




[1] E.g. Al Jazeera, El Pais, Corriere della Sera.


Press Release – South Asian trade unions assert their rights

In Chittagong, Bangladesh, on the International Labour Day of 1 May, the Platform member organisation YPSA brought together shipbreaking workers for a demonstration to claim their right for a healthy and safe workplace.


OSHE, another Platform member, and YPSA also organised demonstrations on the World Day for Health at Work, on 28 April. Concerns related to especially the vulnerability of young workers in hazardous occupations such as shipbreaking were raised, and the call for safe working conditions was joined by prominent trade union representatives.


These events have taken place at a time when the shipbreaking industry has seen a high number of accidents occurring in the yards in the first quarter of this year, with already 10 workers who have lost their lives.


In Pakistan, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), member of IndustriAll, has been officially recognised as a trade union in the re-rolling mills. The mills in Gadani receive the scrap metal that originates from, amongst other, the shipbreaking activities and employ about 15,000 workers. Whilst NTUF has faced difficulties in being recognised as a trade union at the shipbreaking yards in Gadani, its acceptance as a collective bargaining association at the re-rolling mills will greatly benefit the workers who do not have a written contract and work in precarious conditions.


Official recognition of the re-rolling mill workers’ union is an important achievement and will pave the way for the union being able to improve working conditions, health and safety, social security and wages”, said Nasir Mansoor from NTUF.



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 – Surge in number of accidents in Bangladesh shipbreaking yards

NGOs call on the Bangladesh government and ship owning nations to hold business accountable



PHP shipbreaking yard informed the Platform on 26 January 2018 of the following:

The death of worker Harun Rashid, whose body was found in a pond near the PHP shipbreaking yard, was caused by drowning. PHP informs the Platform: “It is understood from Harun Rashid’s family that around 7:30 p.m. he decided to bathe in a local pond and did not return. His body was discovered the next day at around 10:30 a.m. from the pond. The next of kin of worker Harun Rashid released his body from police custody upon filing an application with the local police station to retrieve his body for burial without post-mortem as there was no reason to believe that he had passed away in anything other than normal circumstances”. According to PHP, Harun Rashid was a casual worker at the PHP shipbreaking yard, and PHP paid a substantial compensation to Harun’s family even though they had no obligations under the law to do so. Also according to PHP, the other worker – also called Harun Rashid – was injured in a traffic accident. PHP informs the Platform: “The incident occurred when the worker was heading home to attend a family emergency, and while crossing the street, he was struck by an oncoming bus. The hit-and-run incident left him with injuries, to recuperate from which, he applied for paid leave to his employer”.


Until September the NGO Shipbreaking Platform had observed a decrease in the number of accidents in the shipbreaking yards in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Now, however, the accident rate for the three first quarters of 2017 has surged with 8 injuries and 6 deaths recorded in ten separate incidents in the last two months alone.


On 23 October, Jalal, who worked as a cutter man, died struck by a cable at Arafin Enterprise, the yard where the product tanker LOBATO, owned by Petrobras, is currently being scrapped. Despite early warnings to the Brazilian government, the vessel was illegally exported from Brazil for dirty and dangerous scrapping on the beaches of South Asia and arrived in Chittagong in October. Shipbreaking worker Khalil died while working on an oil section of the Indonesian-owned tanker ECHO, beached at Ferdous Steel shipbreaking yard. One more worker was injured in that accident. Mizan, employed by Fahim Enterprise shipbreaking yard, lost his life on 14 November. He fell from the ship LABRI, sold for breaking by the Greek Polys Haji-Ioannou Group, after a fire broke out on the upper deck. Four more workers, who are now supposedly receiving treatment in the BSBA Hospital, suffered injuries due to a fire at Tania Enterprise shipbreaking yard. Moreover, during a nightshift on 4 December, Mojammel suffocated from inhaling toxic gases and then fell, dying on the spot. He was working at the SN Corporation yard on the ship INOX, owned by the Hong Kong-based HNA Group International. According to local sources, Mojammel and his colleagues were oddly sent to start breaking the vessel just a few hours after its beaching.


A local newspaper in Chittagong further revealed that the body of a worker, Harun Rashid, was found lifeless in a pond close to the PHP shipbreaking yard. Harun was a permanent staff member of PHP and was working as cutter helper. According to the attendance register, he was present and on duty on the day he was found dead. Harun’s cause of death has not yet been cleared by the police and, despite having paid a lump sum to Harun’s family, PHP’s representatives are silent about the incident. Still at PHP, another worker suffered an injury to his left leg and has spent the last three weeks in the BSBA Hospital for treatment.


Details on the remaining 2 injuries and the 1 death at the shipbreaking yards are still unclear.


In October, two major accidents also occurred in the steel re-rolling mills that are connected to the shipbreaking yards and where the steel from the ships are re-rolled into steel bars. According to the Bangladesh Insitute of Labour Studies (BILS), on 10 October 4 workers died in GPH Ispat, and less than a week later an accident at SARM re-rolling mill killed 1 worker and injured as many as 9.


The working conditions in all the Chittagong shipbreaking yards are deplorable. Claims that the situation in the yards has somewhat improved are misleading: workers are still exposed to enormous risks and are killed because of the lack of basic safety procedures and infrastructure”, says Muhammed Ali Shahin, local contact of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.


Ship owners that sell their ships for dirty and dangerous breaking are now also being brought to court. On Sunday, The Guardian published an article exposing the human costs of shipbreaking in Bangladesh. Mohamed Edris, who also worked at Ferdous Steel, was severely injured in 2015 while cutting the EURUS LONDON, owned by Zodiac Maritime, and is now seeking compensation in the UK courts from the shipping company. It is the first time that an injured worker demands compensation from a ship owner directly. Zodiac Maritime took the commercial decision to recklessly sell the EURUS LONDON to a beaching yard with the only aim of making a maximum profit, thus consciously neglecting the human rights abuses that shipbreaking in Bangladesh entails. This case could set a precedent for other workers who want to bring the ultimate profit-makers of dangerous and polluting practices to justice.


So far this year, 51 out of the total 152 ships that have been beached in Chittagong are owned by European companies. Zodiac has continued to sell its ships to Bangladesh, despite the pending legal case against them, demonstrating that they have no consideration for causing harm as a result of their dirty business. Other big companies, such as Teekay, Berge Bulk and Costamare, have also unscrupulously sold ships to the Chittagong beach this year.


One of the Zodiac’s ships currently beached in Bangladesh – 2017 – © NGO Shipbreaking Platform



Press Release – Indian authority shuts NGOs out from Alang yards

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform expresses dismay over the continued failure of the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) to be transparent and to grant civil society access to see the working and environmental conditions at the shipbreaking yards in Alang. For the past two months, the GMB has turned a cold shoulder to repeated requests by the Platform, via the Indian member organisation Toxics Link, to visit the shipbreaking yards on the tidal beach of Alang, where toxic vessels are broken without containment or stable platforms that other recycling methods provide. By refusing to reply to the requests to visit the yards, the GMB has opted to keep the negative environmental and labour impacts of the operations at Alang out of sight.


Last year, also the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the Danish shipping line Maersk excluded the Platform from joining field visits they organised to Alang. Maersk recently reversed its ship recycling policy and began breaking ships on the Indian tidal shore. The return to the beach by Maersk has had the devastating effect of legitimising across the industry the beaching method, which inherently pollutes coastal areas and exposes communities to toxins, conditions that the GMB wants to conceal.


In dismissing the Platform’s request to visit Alang, the GMB has chosen to protect industry attempts to green-wash the dirty and dangerous breaking of ships on beaches. This lack of openness is disappointing and represents a decision by the GMB to keep Indian ship recycling in the dark ages”, says Ingvild Jenssen, Director and Founder of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.


The European Commission is anticipated to prohibit the recycling of EU-flagged ships in beaching yards when it publishes its upcoming list of approved ship recycling facilities in non-EU countries. The EU list represents an important turning point for sustainable ship recycling by setting a benchmark for an industry in which standards have been historically absent.


Platform News – NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents Annual Report 2016

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents its Annual Report 2016.


Last year, at least 52 workers lost their lives on the shipbreaking beaches in South Asia. The worst explosion in the history of shipbreaking struck an oil tanker beached in Gadani, Pakistan, killing 28 workers and injuring more than 60. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is working to ensure that shipping companies sell their obsolete vessels to safe, clean and just recycling facilities. Thanks, in no small part, to the continued efforts of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and its member organisations, concerned policy makers and industry with a stake in shipping are increasingly echoing this demand. Check the new Annual Report to find out more about global shipbreaking practices and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform's activities in 2016.


Support our work to prevent the human rights abuses and environmental injustice provoked when ships are traded to dirty and dangerous breaking yards! Share this publication.


Download the Platform’s Annual Report 2015 here, or send us an email to order a hard copy.



Press Release – EU’s leverage & insurance policy on dirty shipping needed

Environmental NGOs call upon the EU to effectively regulate ship borne pollution


From dangerous emissions in ports to hazardous scrapping on South Asian beaches, European shipping companies pollute and put people’s health and lives at serious risk. In light of the ongoing European Shipping Week and the failure of the International Maritime Organisation to find solutions, environmental experts are ringing the alarm bell and calling upon European policy makers to urgently adopt policies that effectively target the environmental performance of shipping.

"Every year approximately 50,000 people in the EU die prematurely because of air pollution from ships. While all land-based sources have been gradually regulated in recent years we still face a lack of effective emissions control measures for ships."
Daniel Rieger - NABU

Burning heavy fuel without any exhaust gas aftertreatment systems is shockingly still standard practice on open sea, despite both regulatory and technical means at hand to limit the threat to human health, environment and global climate caused by such shipping emissions. The EU must take a lead by designating all its waters as emission control areas for ship born sulphur, nitrogen and particle emissions. Such a step would not only lead to a significant uptake of cleaner fuels but also enable the use of particulate filters and nitrogen catalysts, therefore reducing air pollution levels in port cities and along shipping routes significantly. The EU must also back the growing calls [1] for an international ban on the use of heavy fuel oil by Arctic shipping by 2020.


Shipping mind-bogglingly remains the only sector of the economy not contributing to EU climate targets and yet it is uncontestably an industry responsible for emitting significant amounts of CO2. Forecasts show EU-related ship CO2 emissions will increase by 86% in 2050 compared to 1990 levels. By 2050, international shipping could be responsible for 17% of global CO2 emissions if left unregulated. Environmental NGOs therefore welcome that the European Parliament has decided to include shipping in the EU Maritime Climate Fund/ETS from 2023 if the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) fails to deliver on a global deal.

"The IMO has so far failed to give a credible response to the Paris agreement’s call for urgent action. The EU ETS will provide important leverage to ensure that the IMO finally delivers what it promised under its own roadmap. EU governments must now follow the European Parliament’s lead and agree that ship CO2 emissions must go in the EU ETS if the IMO does not act."
Faig Abbasov - Transport & Environment

Devastating human and environmental impacts are also caused by ships at the end of their operational life. European ship owners shamefully continue to top the list of companies that sell their ships for dirty and dangerous scrapping on beaches in South Asia [2]. A new EU law aims to ensure that EU-flagged ships are recycled in EU-approved facilities. However, in a system where owners can easily swap the flag of their ship and where all vessels sold to South Asia pass through the hands of cash-buyers - middle men specialising in hazardous waste trafficking - legislation based on flag state jurisdiction will be easy to circumvent.

"The scandalous shipbreaking practices of European shipping companies can only be stopped 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. EU policies need to hit where it hurts. Profits made by exploiting workers and poor environmental law enforcement in South Asia is dirty money."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

International shipping laws rest on enforcement by flags of convenience, such as those of Panama and Liberia and Paris MoU grey- and black listed flags at end-of-life. Solutions to curb dirty shipping will need to be ascertained by the EU. Since it controls 40% of the world fleet and is a major trading destination, there is no reason why the EU should be timid in this role.




[1] The Arctic Commitment, an initiative by the Clean Arctic Alliance, aims to protect Arctic communities and ecosystems from the risks posed by the use of heavy fuel oil as marine fuel. For more details see


[2] For a list of all ships sold for scrap in 2016, see



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 – Legambiente joins Platform’s campaign for sustainable ship recycling

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform welcomes onboard Legambiente, its first-ever Italian member organization.


Legambiente is a non-profit association created in 1980 for the safeguard of the environment and for the promotion of sustainable lifestyles, production systems and use of resources. It is the most widespread environmental organization in Italy with over 115.000 members and over 2 million people involved in volunteer activities and campaigns. Legambiente's strength is based on the work of 1.500 local groups and coordinated through 20 regional committees and a national headquarter in Rome.

"We strongly believe that our commitment to protect the marine environment perfectly fits with the aim of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform with whom we share the same objectives. Ship owners have a particular responsibility to make sure that their ships are dismantled in a sustainable way. Nevertheless, Italian-owned commercial vessels keep being broken on South Asian beaches, polluting the environment and putting at risk workers’ safety. It is our goal to stop the shameful practice of beaching and to advocate for truly safe and environmentally sound ship recycling, involving citizens and the industry sector in Italy."
Sebastiano Venneri - Marine Conservation Officer - Legambiente

The demolition of ships is a hazardous endeavor that requires adequate measures to protect the maritime environment, to ensure environmentally safe and sound management of hazardous waste, and to guarantee high health and safety standards for workers. Yet only a fraction of decommissioned ships is handled in a safe and sustainable manner. More than 70% of the end-of-life ships sold for dismantling today end up in South Asia, the region that has served as the main destination for obsolete tonnage in the last decades. The end-of-life vessels are run up on the tidal shores of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, where they are dismantled mainly manually by a migrant work force. The beaching method is at the source of coastal pollution and dangerous working conditions, while modern ship recycling facilities remain unused for the sole purpose of maximizing profits for the shipping industry. In the last seven years, around 90 Italian-owned ships have been dismantled on South Asian beaches. The export of end-of-life vessels from Europe to developing countries is illegal under European environmental law.

"The Platform is excited to join hands with Legambiente and to raise concerns related to unsustainable shipbreaking practices in Italy together. Dirty and dangerous shipbreaking has not yet received the necessary attention in Italy, and Italian ship owners are yet to pledge and implement clean and safe ship recycling policies."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform
© Andreas Ragnarsson -