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Friday, February 19, 2010

the beaching of "MONT" at "ALANG" ~ a sad end to a long glorious career

After my posts on ‘ship breaking’ and some terminology, have received quite a few responses from my friends appreciating me. Not many happily take interest in Marine insurance and in this parlance it mostly means Cargo insurance and Hull insurance is the privilege of a elite few. I have tried to share some little knowledge which I have learnt over the years and certainly claim no mastery over this – but lot of passion on the subject ….

Coming to ship breaking, it is reported that there is much more activity in the graveyards of the ships with recession also contribution. The cargo traffic has sunk, capacity utilization is going down as freight rates fell. As a natural corollary many more ships are heading for final yards. Another contributing factor is the missive of IMO that all single hull cargo ships will have to move to double hull and ships over 25 years will have to be phased out. For the not so well informed, double hull is a design and construction method where the bottom and sides of the ship have two complete layers of water tight hull surface. Most often this space is used as storage tank for fuel or ballast water. Double hulls are more extensively safe than double bottoms which have layers only in the bottom.

All this has meant that the cutting edge at Alang is operating sharper. Some of the Indian shipping companies have the average age on the higher side and would sell out their single hull tankers sooner. The steel market has been buoyant and the higher operational costs of the vessel makes this an option, though not the most preferred one.

With the modernization, the new vessels that touch waters now have lower valuations and operating costs than the existing ones and can beat the older cousins due to lower breakeven costs.  Not only tankers but all types of vessels including luxury liners fall under axe. An hotel ship nicknamed ‘white dolphin’ – MV Blue Monarch is reportedly sold to scrap merchants and could end up at Alang or any other Asian yard.

The ship breaking industry dangles with controversy many a times. Recently there was concern about Platinum II being granted entry for breaking as this was asbestos laden and considered toxic ship. Environmental activists have drawn the Supreme Court’s attention to what they claim are glaring lapses in allowing the 208-metre long and 23,719 gross tonnage Platinum-II anchor at Alang at the behest of the politically powerful ship-breaking industry. A central team was dispatched to Gujarat to assess the condition and contents of the ship, after activists raised concerns about a contaminated US ship being brought to Alang for demolition.
Another vessel at Alang is making waves – it is Mont, earlier known by various names as Seawise giant, Happy giant, Jahre Viking, Knock Nevis. This is the much touted ultra large crude carrier – the largest ship built in the 20th century with a volume of 260,851 Gross Registered Tons. Even in the age of superlatives, this would retain its clout as it was so huge. On land, at 485.46 metres from tip to tip, she would dwarf the once world’s tallest man-made land structure, the 424-metre Petronas tower of Malaysia. At sea she is fully 100 per cent bigger than the new breed of competing super tankers like the ill-fated Exxon Valdez.

This vessel in its present avtar as MONT has beached at a yard in Gujarat. This huge ship was once damaged in Gulf war and convered into a storage tanker in the Persian gulf in its late days. On her plying days, she had a fully laden draft of 24.6 m (81 ft), rendering it unable to navigate the English Channel, the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal when its load was up to capacity.

On its funeral voyage, it was intentionally beached at a yard in Alang in Jan 2010. upon start of cutting operations, it would give the yard the stakes to handle the largest vessel ever to be scrapped in India. Sources say that going by the size of the ship it would take nearly a year to complete the scrapping.

This somehow makes a sad news and does not give much of satisfaction to a lover of sea.

With regards

S Sampathkumar.

Disclaimer :  the photos present here are not my own ... taken from various sites - for the purposes of illustration... since it was the nascent stage of my blogging, failed to note the source.... extremely sorry.... if there is any copyright issue involved, please do mail me or post the comment - sure will have them removed.  This is not a commercial site but maintained by me out of my  passion in Marine insurance... Thanks

Added months later to the original post....


  1. Hi,
    I'm reading your posts and wonder if you have a cost model for shipbreaking on hand.

    I would like to find better ways of doing it that affects nature and the sea less than today.


    Anders Isven
    Stockholm, Sweden

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