Demystifying Ship Recycling - Issue 19

15 Apr 2021
Author: Mr. Kiran Thorat & Dr. Anand Hiremath

Used and unused spare parts recovered during ship recycling

Ships run round the clock transporting raw commodities and finished goods across the continents. Even in pandemic times, when the entire world was at a standstill, ships ran and kept global supplies uninterrupted. Did we ever wonder who keeps these ships moving? The answer is simple and straightforward: the machinery installed on ships and the seafarers who operate them. An oil tanker takes around 18 days to sail from a load port in Arabian Gulf to a Far East discharge port. It simply means the Main Engine and other auxiliary machinery that started operating when the vessel is in Arabian Gulf will continuously run for the remaining 18 days to arrive in the Far East. Machinery parts are subjected to have wear & tear and breakdowns because of nonstop operation. For the smooth functioning of this machinery, it is critical to carry out regular planned maintenance. Ships are supplied with adequate spare parts throughout her life for conducting planned maintenance and troubleshooting. These spare parts are periodically used to replace old used spares. Used spares are recovered and often reconditioned for reuse.>

It is mandatory for ships to maintain an adequate inventory of critical spare parts. When ships complete their useful life, they are sent for recycling. The vessels delivered for recycling often carry used and unused spares. Ship recycling facilities recover these spares and sell them in the secondhand market. There are clusters of at least 700 shops along the road leading to Alang beach, India. These shops buy the recovered spares and stock them at the warehouse. Similar spares clusters are found in Chittagong, Bangladesh. 

spare parts recovered during ship recycling

The secondhand market covers all types of spares for the machinery used onboard vessels. Some vendors stock only specific types of spares. It is usual to find vendors who stock and sell only anchor and anchor chains. Some vendors stock the spare parts for the Main Engine, such as piston crowns, piston rings, liners, etc. 

In fact, some vendors stock critical spares for pneumatic and hydraulic systems. It is common to see a warehouse with only lathe machines and emergency generators storage.

It is easy to discover the spares for machinery at Alang, whose manufacturing is stopped by the original makers. Some of these spares are critical and need to be connected at short notice. 

Recovery, resale, and reuse of the spares from recycled vessels is a true example of the Circular Economy. The spares not only generate value but also serve the ships in critical moments. 

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Ship Recycling Team

About Author

Kiran Thorat is a Sustainable Ship & Offshore Recycling Executive at GMS, where he looks after sustainable ship recycling projects. Kiran believes that Sustainable Recycling is an integral part of Sustainable Shipping and a notable example of a circular economy. He holds a Bachelor's Degree from Marine Engineering and Research Institute (DMET), India, and a Master's Degree in Energy, Trade, and Finance from Cass Business School, London.

Dr. Anand M. Hiremath is a Civil Engineer and holds a Master's Degree in Environmental Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati), India. He was awarded Doctorate Degree in the year 2016 for his research work on Ship Recycling by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay), India. In addition, he has a diploma in Industrial safety, is a qualified lead auditor for ISO 9k, 14k and 18k. Dr. Hiremath published the first practical handbook on ship recycling, entitled: "The Green Handbook: A Practical Checklist to Monitor the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships" which highlights the procedures the GMS RSRP follows to help both Ship and Yard Owners recycle a vessel in an environmentally-friendly manner.

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Ship Recycling Team