Ships sail towards scrapheap

More ships have been scrapped so far this year than in the whole of 2008 as owners decide to cash in on their ageing fleets rather than have them sit unused amid the slowdown in global trade brought on by the recession.

Ship owners who had been receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars a day for their vessels are now having to accept a fraction of that, often not enough to make it worthwhile running the ship, especially given that they can get $200 a tonne for the scrap metal.“For container ships, there’s no employment — or what owners do get is less than it costs to run,” Quentin Soanes, director of Braemar Shipping Services, a ship broker, said. “If an owner … can’t afford to lay off a ship, [he] turns to demolition.” Almost every part of a ship can be recycled, with equipment often resold and the steel used in construction. Mr Soanes said that scrapping started to pick up in November last year and that the first three months of 2009 were extremely busy.Tom Peter Blankestijn, who looks after ship recycling for A.P. Moller Maersk, said that he expected to scrap more than 20 ships this year, compared with 27 over the past eight years.

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