Monday, October 19, 2009

Mystery of US Vessel Awaiting Destruction In India

Toxic or Not, Which Ship are You ?
Shipping News Feature

INDIA – Confusion reigns supreme over the identity of the vessel moored in the waters off Alang awaiting destruction. Or does it? As you can see by the photographs someone seemingly didn’t bother to disguise the ship too carefully, if indeed they are, as suspected one and the same vessel. But why would you go to the trouble of hiding the identity of an ocean liner? Could it be that she holds a toxic secret?

The ship in the top photograph is the The SS Independence she was launched in 1951 and sailed the seven seas with cruise line passengers for sixty years until being mothballed and finally mooring up off San Francisco in 2006. By now she was the Oceanic and the hope was she would be allowed on US domestic cruises. She then appeared in Dubai for a year before moving off to unknown destinations and apparently being re-registered in Kiribati by a Liberian company as the Platinum II.

Reports state that the US authorities banned the vessels destruction after evidence was produced that she held over 200 tonnes of cabling plus ventilation and lighting equipment containing Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) or persistent organic pollutants, banned by the US in 1976. The US has already fined owners of the ship on two separate occasions after she moved in international waters prior to decontamination.

Now the eyes of the world are once again on a situation where elements in a poorer country seem ready to accept their position as a rubbish dump and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board now seem to accept that dismantling of the vessel will proceed despite the fact it is likely to breach the Basle and Stockholm Conventions under which acceptance of the ship is illegal.

Unconfirmed reports say the Indian authorities latest comments are that the ship will be accepted and dismantled “ whilst being monitored” as she is not fit to return to sea.

Picture: Top SS Independence in San Francisco Bottom Platinum II

Editors Note: See also stories 14th  and 21st August