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Ship breaking or ship demolition is a type of ship disposal involving the breaking up of ships for scrap recycling. Most ships have a lifespan of a few decades before there is so much wear that refitting and repair become uneconomical. Ship breaking allows materials from the ship, especially steel, to be recycled. Equipment on board the vessel can also be reused.
As an alternative to ship breaking, ships are also sunk to make artificial reefs after being cleaned up. Other possibilities are floating (or land-based) storage.
History and transition 
Until the late 20th century, ship breaking took place in port cities of industrialized countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Today, most ship breaking yards are in developing countries, with the largest yards at Gadani in Pakistan, Alang in India, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Aliağa in Turkey. This is due to lower labor costs and less stringent environmental regulations dealing with the disposal of lead paint and other toxic substances. Some "breakers" still remain in the United States which work primarily on government surplus vessels. There are also some in Dubai, United Arab Emirates for tankers. China used to be an important player in the 1990s. It is now trying to reposition itself in more environmentally friendly industries.
Health and environmental risks 
In addition to steel and other useful materials, however, ships (particularly older vessels) can contain many substances that are banned or considered dangerous in developed countries. Asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are typical examples. Asbestos was used heavily in ship construction until it was finally banned in most of the developed world in the mid 1980s. Currently, the costs associated with removing asbestos, along with the potentially expensive insurance and health risks, have meant that ship-breaking in most developed countries is no longer economically viable. Removing the metal for scrap can potentially cost more than the value of the scrap metal itself. In the developing world, however, shipyards can operate without the risk of personal injury lawsuits or workers' health claims, meaning many of these shipyards may operate with high health risks. Protective equipment is sometimes absent or inadequate. Dangerous vapors and fumes from burning materials can be inhaled, and dusty asbestos-laden areas are commonplace.
Aside from the health of the yard workers, in recent years ship breaking has become an issue of major environmental concern. Many ship breaking yards in developing nations have lax or no environmental law, enabling large quantities of highly toxic materials to escape into the environment and causing serious health problems among ship breakers, the local population, and wildlife. Environmental campaign groups, such as Greenpeace, have made the issue a high priority for their activities.
List of Ship Breaking yards 
Below is the list of some of world's largest ship breaking yards.
United States 
Alternative definition 
A ship breaker may sometimes be defined as a crewman without whom a ship can't put to sea. For example, the Chief Engineer, Medical Officer or Ship's Coxswain are considered ship breakers, particularly on a Navy ship.
See also 
- Ship breaking yards
- Alang area
- Chittagong Ship Breaking yard
- Gadani ship-breaking yard
- Thomas William Ward
- Ship Breaker, a young-adult novel by Paolo Bacigalupi
- AMRC: Asbestos in the Ship-breaking industry of Bangladesh: Action for Ban
- MPN: Accidents And Asbestos - Concerns Plaguing The Shipbreaking Industry In Developing Countries
- "Shipbreaking". Greenpeace. March 16, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-27.
Further reading 
- Langewiesche, William (2004). The Outlaw Sea: Chaos and Crime on the World's Oceans. London: Granta Books. ISBN 0-86547-581-4. Contains an extensive section on the shipbreaking industry in India and Bangladesh.
- Buxton, Ian L. (1992). Metal Industries: shipbreaking at Rosyth and Charlestown. World Ship Society. p. 104. OCLC 28508051. Ships scrapped include Mauretania and much of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow. Ships listed with owners and dates sold.
- Buerk, Roland (2006). Breaking Ships: How supertankers and cargo ships are dismantled on the shores of Bangladesh. Chamberlain brothers. p. 192. ISBN 1-59609-036-7. Breaking Ships follows the demise of the Asian Tiger, a ship destroyed at one of the twenty ship-breaking yards along the beaches of Chittagong. BBC Bangladesh correspondent Roland Buerk takes us through the process-from beaching the vessel to its final dissemination, from wealthy shipyard owners to poverty-stricken ship cutters, and from the economic benefits for Bangladesh to the pollution of its once pristine beaches and shorelines.
- Bailey, Paul J. (2000). "Is there a decent way to break up ships?". Sectoral Activities Programme. International Labour Organization. Retrieved 2007-05-29.
- Rousmaniere, Peter (2007). "Shipbreaking in the Developing World: Problems and Prospects". International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. Analysis of the economics of shipbreaking, the status of worldwide reform efforts, and occupational health and safety of shipbreaking including results of interviewing Alang shipbreakers.
- Siddiquee, N.A. 2004. Impact of ship breaking on marine fish diversity of the Bay of Bengal.DFID SUFER Project, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 46 pp.
- Siddiquee, N. A., Parween, S., and Quddus, M. M. A., Barua, P., 2009 ‘Heavy Metal Pollution in sediments at ship breaking area of Bangladesh ‘Asian Journal of Water, Environment and Pollution, 6 (3) : 7-12
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Shipbreaking|
- Shipbreaking at the Open Directory Project
- "The Ship Breaking and Recycling Industry in Bangladesh and Pakistan".
- 1998 Baltimore Sun report series on the shipbreaking industry in Alang
- NPR host Alex Chadwick talks with Will Englund of the Baltimore Sun
- ILO publication on shipbreaking
- Ship Breaking in Bangladesh
- NGO Platform on Shipbreaking
- Regulatory information on Ship recycling
- "(Cheap)Breaking", 2008 photo report in Chittagong, Bangladesh
- Photo Essay on Shipbreaking in Chittagong, Bangladesh
- Selected news stories
- Bangladeshi workers risk lives in shipbreaking yards - 2012-05-05, The Guardian
- Ship breaking business a big hit this year - 2009-03-24, The News
- Scrap ships crowd shore on demand for cheap steel - 2008-08-19, The Daily Star