Pulling of ships towards the recycling yards
In major ship recycling destinations such as Turkey, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, ships are recycled at the sea-shore interface. Superannuated ships are delivered to the recycling facilities, where the hull is cut into big slices. These gigantic slices are shifted to the secondary cutting zones for the extraction of steel plates. The ship’s hull needs to be gradually pulled towards the ship recycling yard to cut further slices. Have you ever wondered how the massive hull of a ship is pulled towards the recycling facility?
Ship recyclers who recycle ships at sea-shore interfaces have developed unique techniques to pull the hull towards yards. Strategic windows are cut on the ship’s side shell on the port and starboard side. Through these openings, giant chains are passed. These chains are connected to the steel wires with the help of robust shackles and pulleys. Steel wires are connected to the heavy-duty winches. These heavy chains, shackles, and pulleys are shifted and passed through the hull openings with the help of moving cranes.
The wires used for winching operation are typically 32 mm in diameter.
Usually, any ship recycling facility has two or sets of winches. These winches are powered by diesel engines. Winches are periodically load tested. Routine maintenance is carried out on the winches and their prime movers. Protective guards cover winches to guard the operator in case the wire snaps.
The ship’s hull is pulled towards the recycling yard during high tide because the aft part of the hull gets partially lifted due to buoyancy and significantly lessens the load on the winches. Before pulling operation, adjacent recycling facilities are alerted beforehand. Throughout this critical operation, none of the other tasks are allowed in the yard.
Following the winching operation, the steel wire ropes are coiled and stored in the trays adjacent to the winches. Qualified inspectors regularly inspect the wires for any kinks, broken strands, corrosion, and any other defects. It helps to assess the real condition of the wires and the need for replacement.
With the use of heavy-lift capacity cranes with more extended booms, larger slices are cut and lifted from the ship’s hull and kept on the secondary cutting zones, minimizing the use of winches to pull the hull.
The process of pulling the hull is periodic and needs to be conducted with absolute care and precautions. Few recycling facilities use the load cells to monitor the load applied on the wires as they have understood the significance of monitoring load. And they have developed the Standard Operating Process to execute these critical tasks seamlessly without any incident and accident.
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.
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 the true example of the Circular Economy. The spares not only generate value but also serve the ships in critical moments.
Infrastructure for Treatment, Storage and Disposal of Hazardous Waste at Alang
It is widely criticized that recycling facilities do not have adequate procedures and infrastructure to collect and dispose of the hazardous waste recovered from the ships during the recycling process. However, it is critical to know and understand the infrastructure available at Alang.
Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) is the regional regulatory body supervising recycling activities in Alang, India. GMB constructed the landfill site and assigned Gujarat Enviro Protection Infrastructure Limited (GEPIL) as an operator for the Treatment, Storage, and Disposal of hazardous waste recovered from the vessels during the recycling process. The first facilities were constructed in 2005-2006. The facilities had the following cells and capacities.
When the capacity of the above landfill cells was about to complete, GMB expanded the earlier capacity in 2013 to new landfill cells of a total of 100,000 M3. The facility was further upgraded by installing a separate oily bilge water treatment plant that can treat bilge water recovered from the ships. The separated oil is stored in the designated tanks until enough is accumulated. To burn the oil, an incinerator plant was installed. A key point to note, the separated water is stored in the underground and overground tanks, which can be used as firefighting water for the incinerator. Excess water is used for trees planted on the site. With the addition of an incinerator and bilge water treatment plant, the GEPIL site became a fully integrated waste management facility.
The existing capacity of the GEPIL Treatment Storage Disposal Facility (TSDF) at Alang is as below:
It is evident that the recycling facilities have sufficient infrastructure to dispose of hazardous wastes. HKC compliant recycling facilities hand over the segregated waste only to GEPIL against the receipts. Waste disposal is appropriately documented. Since its inception, GEPIL has managed 65,000 MT of ship recycling waste.
The commitment shown by the local regulatory bodies and yards for sustainable ship recycling is commendable.
Training imparted to recycling facility workers by Gujarat Maritime Board
In the 16th issue of Demystifying Ship Recycling, we discussed free compulsory training imparted to the yard workers to upgrade their skills and awareness. However, the recycling yards have HSE Officers and Supervisors who monitor the yard workers' day-to-day activities. Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) has developed workshops and seminars to train the workers who perform managerial jobs and lead smaller teams.
a. Hazardous Materials Manager's Course:
The content of the course includes identification, extraction, and storage of hazardous material from the ships
b. Ship Recycling and Toxic Health Hazard:
In this course, the health hazards related to exposure to toxic materials are discussed.
c. Use of multi-gas detectors
The use of multi-gas detectors is crucial before making man-entry to the confined spaces and before commencing the hot work. The participants are trained for the correct application of the multi-gas detectors.
d. Advanced First Aid and Basic Life Support Safety in Plot
It is essential for workers to understand the first aid and the basics of life support to respond appropriately in an emergency onboard vessel and at the shipyard.
e. Environment and Safety Risk Assessment
Risk assessment is foremost and should be conducted before commencing any physical work onboard vessel. The associated risks with specific jobs should be identified and mitigated as per the Risk Matrix. The participants are trained to carry out not only safety risk assessment but also environmental risk assessment.
f. Operations of Crane and Winches
Ship recycling cannot be imagined without cranes and winches. In this training, participants are trained for the Cranes and Winches' proper operations and hazards associated with the crane and winch wires.
g. Work Stress Management
In this workshop, the participants are educated about managing the stress related to work. Due to a hectic day-to-day lifestyle, it is evident that someone gets stressed, and it's paramount to understand work stress management.
h. Handling of Asbestos
In this workshop, participants are explicitly trained to handle Asbestos. The workshop covers training for identification, extraction, segregation, and disposal of Asbestos.
i. Work Permit Systems
Shipyard workers have to perform different tasks like enclosed space entry, hot work, working at height, etc. Filling a permit before the beginning of the work is vital for communicating critical safety information. The workshop explains the significance of the work permits and how to fill them effectively.
j. Fire Safety Awareness onboard vessel and in the plot
Ship recycling is impossible without gas cutting. There is always a hazard associated with fire, and it is crucial to make participants aware of the fire safety onboard vessel and at the plot.
It is worth noting that periodic Refresher courses are conducted to ensure workers are up to date with evolving safety standards and safe working practices. In case of any incident, learnings from the incident training are undertaken to prevent such events in recycling facilities. The effectiveness of training is evaluated by written & oral exams and issuance of a certificate. GMB provides all trainings for free of cost keeping the workers' safety at the forefront. GMB is persistently imparting such training over the last two decades.
Compulsory training imparted to recycling facility workers by Gujarat Maritime Board (Part-1)
It is a widely known fact that whoever wants to work on a ship as a crew must undergo training as per their intended designated duties prior to joining a ship. The content of the training and required duration are governed by the STCW (Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping Rules). They are amended periodically to ensure the crew is well trained to work safely onboard a vessel.
Have we ever wondered what training is provided to the workers working at recycling facilities?
The Government of India has ratified the Hong Kong Convention in Nov 2019. The Directorate General of Shipping has been appointed as an apex body for overseeing the ship recycling activities in India. Gujarat Maritime Board is a regional body that controls the ship recycling process at Alang. GMB has prepared different free training programs for yard workers before they begin to work in the yards.
Gujarat Maritime Board training center
A. Free Compulsory Comprehensive Safety Training (Duration: 12 days):
Any qualified individual who wants to work at a recycling facility must undergo 12 days of free compulsory safety training. This training gives a comprehensive idea about the jobs done at recycling yards. The training includes the identification of hazards in gas cutting operations. It emphasizes the application of Personal Protective Equipment. The training highlights the hazards of working in a confined space, working at height, working in the engine room, the presence of a hazardous atmosphere, etc. Safety-related to metals and materials handling are discussed in the course. Fire and explosion hazards are discussed in-depth and fire fighting training is provided to every individual.
First aid training and emergency response drills are conducted during the training.
And most importantly, the workers are made familiar with the environmental hazards and housekeeping at yards.
B. Free Refresher Safety Training (Duration 03 days):
Refresher training is provided to the workers who had already undergone 12 days of compulsory training earlier and need to refresh their knowledge. In this program, the workers are made aware of new developments in ship recycling, and the topics covered in the 12 days program are also discussed. The accident case studies are also discussed with the workers to make them understand the root cause of the accident and how those accidents could have been prevented.
C. Free Gas Cutter Safety Training (Duration: 02 days):
This is specialized training provided only to the workers who would be working as a gas cutter.
The workers are informed about the gas cutting equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) and their significance during gas cutting. Safe procedures and hazards during the gas cutting are discussed in depth. Workers are made aware of fire prevention and protection during the gas cutting operations. Comprehensive training is provided about the fire causes, fire fighting, and extinguishing.
The effectiveness of training is evaluated by the Indian Register of Shipping. Upon clearing verbal/written exams, certificates are issued to the workers. If a worker fails to clear the exam, he has to undergo training again.
It is worth noting that all these trainings are provided free of cost keeping the workers’ safety at the forefront. The efforts made by the GMB in improving training from 2003 are noteworthy.
Established in 1992 in historic Cumberland, MD. (U.S.A), GMS is the world's LARGEST and FIRST ISO 9001 certified Cash Buyer of ships for recycling. With exclusive representatives in all of the major ship recycling markets in the world, GMS has negotiated about 3,500 ships for recycling since inception. In addition to its original office in the United States of America, the company continues to expand its operations with offices in Hamburg (Germany), Athens (Greece), Dubai (UAE), India (Bhavnagar), Singapore, Seoul (Korea), Shanghai (China) and Tokyo (Japan).
P.O. Box 346041, Suite 101,
Saba 1 Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai, UAE