Two Workers Die Following Tanker Fire in Chittagong

A fire in the engine room of a tanker being dismantled on a beach in Chittagong, Bangladesh, claimed the lives of two workers, NGO Shipbreaking Platform informed.

The two men were working at Shagorika Ship Breaking Yard, which is under the same ownership as RA Shipbreaking yard that earned itself a media spotlight following the purchase of Nordic American Tankers’ Nordic Sprite.

The vessel in question has been identified as the 2000-built Greek Warrior, which was sold by Greek owner Polembros Shipping for scrap in May 2018, data from VesselsValuation shows.

In the last ten years, Polembros sent at least 24 end-of-life ships to South Asian beaches, according to NGO Shipbreaking Platform. Half of them reached the shores of Bangladesh, where shipbreakers are infamous for poor enforcement of environmental and safety rules.

“With more than 900 vessels beached since 2009, Greek owners top the list of global dumpers by far,” the platform claims.

It is about time that the Greek government puts an end to the appalling shipbreaking practices of its shipping industry and holds it liable for the irreparable damages caused by beaching. The EU has set a standard that should be followed by Greek ship owners, even when not sailing their vessels under an EU flag,” says Ingvild Jenssen, Executive Director and Founder of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

Specifically, as of January 1, 2019 the EU Ship Recycling Regulation entered into force requiring all large sea-going vessels sailing under an EU Member State flag to use an approved ship recycling facility included in the European List.

European ship owners own 35% of the world fleet. A large percentage of these is being dismantled on beaches in South Asia, under conditions harmful to workers’ health and the environment. The white list of shipyards is aimed at curbing the practice,  ensuring that ships are recycled in facilities that are safe for workers and environmentally sound.

However, the shipowners often re-flag and rename their vessels before selling them to beaching yards in South Asia.

The 300,000 dwt VLCC was sold for demolition under the name Ibukisan, according to VesselsValue.

On the other hand, data from NGO Shipbreaking Platform indicates that the vessel changed name, from Greek warrior to S Warrior, and flag, from Panama to Palau, before its final voyage.

According to maritime databases, the cash buyer involved in the sale was Prayati Shipping Pvt. Ltd, based in Mumbai, India. Prayati Shipping offers different types of services, including demolition voyage management.

“To reduce costs and avoid being held accountable, cash buyers 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 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,” the platform explained.

A total of 744 large ocean-going commercial vessels were sold to the scrap yards in 2018, out of which 518 were broken down on South Asia beaches, accounting for a record-breaking 90.4% of the gross tonnage dismantled globally, data from NGO Shipbreaking Platform shows.