Watch The Grueling And Dangerous Work Involved In Breaking Down A Ship

When a ship has been decommissioned and it’s time to recycle its parts, it make go to a ship breaking yard for demolition. It’s spectacular to watch, but it’s also remarkably tough and dangerous work for the workers who break down the boats piece by piece and haul them away.

In the recent years, ship breaking facilities were moved from the UK and the United States to Asia because of lower labor costs and environmental standards, and most of the work is done through traditional methods instead of with modern machines. There are serious environmental and health risks, because some ships older than 30 years could contain asbestos and other chemical compounds, and there are also dangerous fumes from burning materials. The workers do their work without any protective equipment.

Demolition of huge ships in Bangladesh, where the bulk of the world’s ship breaking is done, thanks to low environment standards and cheap labor. The workers (some of them are children) are exposed to toxic gases, pollution and the threat of being crushed or stabbed by large slabs of steel, and are paid a half a dollar a day.

A demolition site in Alang, India, which is Asia’s largest ship recycling yard

Safe shipbreaking in India, as a part of the EU funded DIVEST (Dismantling of Vessels with Enhanced Safety and Technology) Project

Aliağa yard, Turkey

Gadani beach, Pakistan

Ship breaking at Engineering Services, London, UK

Miss China, a 67-foot commercial fishing vessel, torn apart by an excavator in New Bedford, Massachusetts

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To be honest letting companies get away with doing these jobs in these countries is a joke. I think it really needs to be stipulated that ships be broken up in either the country of origin or it’s flagged state. And even though it’s more difficult in the UK and the US it’s still done and we still do platform decomm and breaking in both countries. There are even advantages in the US and UK, access to heavy equipment, technology and safe systems of work make things go a lot quicker and have better material recovery rates.