It may seem a big surprise for a country whose industry is proud of green technology and engineering solutions, but Germany is responsible for the worst shipbreaking practices among all shipping nations when one compares the size of its fleet to the number of ships broken irresponsibly, says the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
In 2016 German owners, banks and ship funds had 97 ships rammed up on the beaches of South Asia out of a total of 99 vessels sold for demolition, meaning 98 percent of all obsolete German ships ended up on a beach. In addition, close to 40 percent were broken in Bangladesh, where conditions are known to be the worst.
Among the owners bringing the most ships to the beaches are Hansa Mare with 12 ships, Alpha Ship, F. Laeisz and Peter Doehle with seven each, and Dr. Peters, König & Cie, Norddeutsche Vermögen and Rickmers with six each.
These shipbreaking practices come with a high death toll. During the breaking period of the RENATE N. at Seiko shipbreaking in Chittagong, Bangladesh, three workers were killed and three more injured. The vessel owned by Neu Seeschifffahrt had been traded through cash buyer Wirana
The UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights expressed serious concerns in a submission to the German Government
, criticizing the substandard practices of German owners. In November, another Bangladeshi worker was killed during the demolition of the 10-year-old, loss-making containership VIKOTRIA WULFF.
Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of the Platform, said, “It is not the first time that shipbreaking workers pay with their lives for the failed business practices of German ship owners and their ship funds. Due to numerous bankruptcies resulting from short-sighted and high-risk investment, insolvency administrators appointed by the courts quickly trade the unprofitable ships to the beaches of South Asia, and the bill for the shipping industry’s greed is paid by people and the environment.”
Greece was responsible for the highest absolute number of ships sold to South Asian shipbreaking yards in 2016: 104 ships in total. Since the Platform has started to compile data in 2009, Greek shipping companies have unceasingly topped the list of owners that opt for dirty and dangerous shipbreaking.
Backed by the Greek government, they continue to refuse liability for the damage done to workers and the environment. A Greek ship beached in Pakistan in December 2016 caused the death of five workers in January when a fire broke out on the GAZ FOUNTAIN owned by Athens-based Naftomar.
The worst corporate dumper prize goes to the UK-based ZODIAC – operated out of London and owned by Eyal Ofer, son of late shipping magnate Sammy Ofer – who alone has sold 12 ships for breaking on the beaches in 2016, mostly to Bangladesh, and the company has been linked to severe accidents.
During the demolition of Ofer’s ship SNOWDON, beached in Pakistan in October, a worker was killed in January this year. Eyal’s brother Idan, owner of the QUANTUM PACIFIC GROUP and holder of a controlling stake in the ISRAEL CORPORATION, received the worst dumper award in 2015 for selling most of his end-of-life vessels to Bangladesh breakers