Watch: Methods Used to Dismantle & Scrap Mega Ships

Have you ever wondered what happens to ships at the end of their lives?

Today, we dive into the intriguing world of ship scrapping, exploring the factors that determine when and how ships meet their end.

As ships age, typically between 20 to 32 years, various factors come into play – from ship types to market conditions and scrapyards’ demands.

This is where they start their final journey to a ship graveyard.

“According to UNCTAD data, the top three ship scrapping countries by tonnage are Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.

But, how are mega-ships actually scrapped? Let’s understand different methods used to dismantle and scrap sea-going ships. 

As ships become unserviceable, they’re sold based on Lightweight Tonnage (LDT) and key factors like length, breadth, depth, and composition.

Considerations are made whether the ship is dead or running, with 95% of a ship’s body made of mild steel.

The first stop is Dry Docking, which is popularly used for ship repair. Here, a ship sails into a dock, the water is pumped out, and workers meticulously dismantle the vessel. However, this method is sparingly used for scrapping a ship due to its high costs, and they are mainly seen in certain parts of Europe.

Next is the Pier Breaking or Alongside method. Ships are secured along a wharf, where cranes carefully remove pieces until the vessel is either lifted or sent to a dry dock for final cutting. Common practices are found in regions like China, Europe, and the US.

Next, we have a Landing or Slipway, in which ships are sailed against the shore or a concrete slipway. Onshore or barge-based cranes dismantle the vessel, often utilizing temporary quays or jetties. This method is quite common in places like Turkey. 

Lastly, there is the Beaching method, the most common for ship scrapping.  Ships are steamed onto a tidal beach, allowing workers direct access for cutting. This approach is prevalent in countries like Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.

Before beaching, the ship is lightened to reduce its draft, ensuring it can safely navigate shallow waters. This is often achieved by removing heavy items, such as cargo and fuel, making the vessel more buoyant.

Once at the desired location, the ship is anchored and secured to prevent it from drifting or tilting during the dismantling process. This step is crucial for the safety of both the workers and the vessel itself.

This is where the intricate process of dismantling begins, starting from the top and working all the way down through the ship’s structure.

Specialized equipment, including cutting torches and heavy machinery, is used to dismantle the ship systematically. Workers carefully cut through the hull and superstructure, separating the ship into manageable sections for recycling.

Have you ever been involved in a ship scrapping operation?

Let us know in the comments. 

Watch this video to know more-

About Author

Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.

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The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.


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