Demolition voyages surveys, leading to an issuance of a certificate of approval or sail away permission, either under own steam, or towed, are perhaps the most testing for a marine surveyor.

The challenges involved with a perceived increase in risk, compliance with regulations, commercial pressures through cash buyers, re-flagging, re-classing and approvals, pose a challenge to the surveyors acumen, knowledge and to a large extent, his integrity.

This is where companies and consultants like Constellation Marine services can assist in successful sail away surveys.

Over the years, Constellation marine have performed numerous successful demolition voyage surveys, be it for ship sections being towed within the UAE, for ocean voyages of out of commission deep water drilling rigs, or an international voyage across the Indian Ocean, right up to Eastern Europe.

Little has been written about the ship demolition market, an essential element in the supply/demand balance for shipping.

Either technical or economic obsolescence may be the cause for scrapping a ship, where the latter is strongly influenced not only by anticipated market levels, but the rate at which more efficient ships are being introduced.

The recycling market is actively supported by a large number of specialist shipbrokers none so more important in keeping sellers and potential buyers aware of scrap values prevalent at dominant markets.

Having said that, there is little information available on insurance of vessels on demolition/recycling voyages.

Very little is also known on those specialist professionals engaged in this increasingly significant and growing trade.

While ship owners seek the maximum value for their end of life assets, in recent times, managing end-of-life ships is becoming increasingly complex due to revamped international and national regulatory landscape, where, environmental protection has taken a spotlight.

The complex balance between regulatory regimes applicable to the Maritime community and the onus of the voyage being completed successfully in view of the conditions of the vessels involved in end of life voyages, together with the monetary outlay applicable for this, is generally taxing on professional surveyors who issue sail away voyage approvals, and involve microscopic assessments of risk that may be present for these voyages.

Traditional aspects of Marine condition survey modalities may not be most applicable in this case, professional surveyors need to adopt a more tightly focused solution based view on those risks that may be applicable, must have greater foresight vis-à-vis the risk that may be encountered, and in line with those that may affect the vessels liability cover from the start and up to the completion of the voyage.

The proliferation of numerous “end to end” ship recycling management companies have added another layer of difficulty, especially smaller unregulated entities and so called “cash buyers” who seek a quick return on their investments sometimes at any cost.

It is not uncommon therefore that attempts to impair and influence the professional judgement of the surveyor who is carrying out the risk assessment survey, occurs. It thus requires a steadfast belief in the surveyors professional integrity to ensure foreseen encountered risk are mitigated to ensure a safe voyage to the re-cycling yard.

It is also common that ships sold to demolition yards pass through numerous scrap dealers, many of whom often re-register and re-flag the vessels on their final voyage. Many “last voyage” flags are known to offer discounts for this particular voyage, and often leads to skirting of established implementation of international maritime law.

Surveyors are thus often taxed in implementing and verifying standard maritime practices for these demolition voyages, and unless it is not looked into with a keen eye may result in disastrous consequences.

Greater efforts are needed to ensure proper enforcement of current legislation on ship recycling as highest profit seems to be the only decisive factor most ship owners take into account when selling their vessels for breaking. Constellation marine services recognize the importance of regulatory framework that covers this activity, and can offer solutions that keep Safety and compliance at the forefront of “sail away” activities to ensure parties involved in this exercise benefit but with adherence to safety at all times.


Prepared by Captain Vispy

Master Mariner