A graveyard in simple terms is a more refined term for burial grounds. Ships graveyard refers to those places where ships are left for disintegration. The graveyards are of two varieties: the ones created specifically for the purpose of a ship’s decomposition and the oceanic parts where ships have been stranded without any chances of getting rescued because of natural occurrences.
Alternatively, there exists a third variant of ship graveyard. The ships that form a part of this graveyard are not ships that are put specifically to disintegrate. On the contrary, they are ships defunct from the active line of duty because of some reason. The grave yards formed of such abandoned ships are seen in several parts of the world. Sometimes, even ship breaking yards are also termed as ship grave yards.
A detailed list mentioning the 10 largest graveyards of ships across the world is enumerated as follows:
I. Curtin Artificial Reef: The Curtin Artificial Reef is a ship grave yard in Australia. The graveyard was established by the Underwater Research Group of Queensland (URGQ) in collaboration with the Australian armed forces, the transport department of Queensland and the tug and the barge corporations.
II. Aral Sea: The Aral Sea is a well-known graveyard of ships in the Eurasian country of Uzbekistan. Once a thriving hive of fishing activity, the Sea was reduced to a graveyard because of a decision by the former USSR regime to convert the area into a cotton plantation.
According to the UN Secretary General, the Aral Sea represents the largest graveyard in today’s times, detrimental to the overall marine ecology of the area.
III. Gadani: Located near Karachi, Pakistan, the Gadani ship graveyard is the third biggest vessel graveyard in the world. In the previous financial year, around 107 ships were dismantled at Gadani which has over 100 plots for vessel dismantling.
IV. Alang: The world’s largest graveyard with respect to ship breaking in the Indian sub-continent, Alang in Gujarat, India, oversees ship dismantling for almost 50% of the world’s vessels.
The ship breaking operations in the graveyard began in the year 1983 and today, after nearly three decades, a lot of questions have been raised about the conditions faced by the workers of the ship grave yard.
V. Landévennec: A vessel graveyard in France, the Landévennec graveyard is used mainly as a military vessel graveyard. The graveyard is basically a water cove created by the Aulne River about the Pen Forn point near Landévennec and has a depth of about 10 metres.
Surrounding mountains help as a buffer to keep the water calm at all times which helps in the better disintegrating of the vessels.
VI. Staten Island: The Staten Island graveyard in the United States is a well-known graveyard for tugs and barges. The most important aspect of the Staten Island graveyard is that some of the tugs and boats’ salvage belong to the 20th century and it forms one of the most sought after places for scuba-divers.
VII. Bikini Atoll: The Bikini Atoll was used for the United States’ naval ships at the time of the Second World War. A very popular destination for researchers and scuba-divers, it has been recently found out that the coral reefs of the Atoll which had been completely destructed due to the war-time activities were showing signs of re-growth and resurgence.
VIII. Jervois Beach: The Jervois Beach in the Adelaide Port was used as a graveyard for ships from the 1900s till the 1960s. Since most of the ships have been completely disassembled, there is not much by way of any wreckage in the Beach. However, there are four ships whose salvaged remains can be seen from the shore during low tide.
IX. Skeleton Coast: The Skeleton Coast is a ship graveyard in Namibia. Known as the Skeleton Coast National Park (named in the year 1973), the ship graveyard is regarded by many as the world’s largest graveyard of ships.The occurrence of impenetrable fogs and storms has led to various ships being stranded causing it to become a vessel graveyard.
The Skeleton Coast originates at the mouth of the River Ugab and extends up to the River Kunene located near the border of Angola.
X. Bay of Nouadhibou: Located in Mauritania, this passage of water is regarded unequivocally across the world as being the world’s largest graveyard. According to statistics, more than 300 vessels can be found in this dumping ground. However unlike the other mentioned ship graveyards, the Bay of Nouadhibou was used a ship dumping ground mainly on account of the avarice of the Mauritian authorities who allowed uncensored dumping of ships in the Bay.
Ship graveyards in recent times have come under the scrutiny of guardians and preservationists of the oceanic ecosystem and ecology. Organisations like the Greenpeace are making huge efforts to make people understand about the repercussions of such ship graveyards. In today’s times, it needs to be noted that many shipping companies and government authorities make sure that the dismantling of a ship happens in dry docks. However, those ships which are not disposed off in dry docks do become a part of the ship graveyard chain. In order to protect the marine ecosystem from degenerating further, it is important and highly imperative that the usage of ship graveyards is restricted and curtailed.
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