Cruise Ships From Britain End Up In Indian Scrapyards Bypassing UK Law

A recent media report has highlighted what’s happening to Britain’s expired cruise ships which are heading to Indian scrapyards.

Bypassed Law To Sell Ships

Ships which are over their term and need to be scrapped are regarded as hazardous waste. It’s illegal to send those hazardous waste to developing nations but shipping companies continue to do so as most of the ship recycling yards of the world are in India and Bangladesh.

These cruise ship companies bypassed that UK law by auctioning the ships to buyers outside the UK who are now sending it to Indian scrapyards. A new investigative show Shipping’s Dirty Secrets on BBC’s File on 4′ highlights this issue.

alang shipyard
(Photo by Adam Cohn – – Dawn at Alang Shipyards, 2015) – Credits:

The ships will undergo further trading after they leave UK waters and hence they will be out of the purview of the UK law.

Buyers Refuse To Take Delivery

The cruise ships heading to India scrapping include Marco Polo, Magellan and many others Both these cruise ships were auctioned in November last year by their owner Cruise and Maritime Voyages.

The 1960 built Marco Polo ended its run with a final voyage to Gujarat’s and, the world’s largest ship graveyard. Marco Polo was sold for a staggering 2 million pounds to Highseas Ltd. The offshore company said it would be turned into a floating hotel in Dubai but they backtracked in just 2 months, ultimately selling it for scrapping at 4 million pounds.

According to the BBC show, HighSeas said that they wanted to sell the cruise ship to new owners but buyers in Dubai refused to take it.

Magellan went through a similar fate as no buyers took the vessel from the Greek Ship Owner who bought it on the auction. The cruise ship was slated to be a floating hotel in Liverpool.

The Hazard of Shipbreaking

At present, nearly 800 ships end up in South Asian scrapyards which sustains the Shipbreaking industry in these countries but the huge environmental burden of this remains a concern. The working conditions of the people working in the scrapyards are also concerning.

The Ship Breaking Platform has chronicled the detrimental effects of this for years and their reports show 400 deaths of ship recycling industry workers on the beaches of these ship recycling yards since 2009. Severe fatal incidents happen regularly on these yards. This includes gas explosions, workers falling from heights etc. Those who survive often get long term sickness due to toxic exposure to substances like asbestos etc.

According to Ingvild Jenssen,the Director of Ship-breaking Platform, there’s a lot value of these vessels because of the huge quantity of steel they have but they also contain hazardous materials like lead heavy metals and asbestos.

“You need to take large precautions when you’re dealing with them,” she said.

Sea2Cradle, a ship recycling consultant says many countries like India don’t consider asbestos as a hazardous material.

“The illegal export of waste is a significant threat to the global environment, and those convicted could face two years in prison or an unlimited fine”, the UK Government said.


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