Fire Hits VLCC Under Demolition at Gadani Shipbreaking Yard

A fire onboard the German VLCC ADA.

A major fire tore through an end-of-life VLCC at the Gadani shipbreaking yard in Pakistan on Monday, marking yet another incident to underscore the dangers of scrapping vessels beaches.

According to local media reports, the former German tanker ADA caught fire during its demolition at shipbreaking plot 116 at the yard. Four people were initially reported to be trapped on the vessel, but media later reported all workers had made it off safely.

The fire is believed to now be out, based on reports.

The fire is believed to have started when a contractor commenced demolition activities before the end of oil cleaning operations, without EPA clearance, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform said on Twitter.

AIS ship tracking shows the ADA arrived in Gadani in May. 

Of the 835 large ocean-going commercial ships that were sold for scrap in 2017, a total of 543 ships were intentionally run ashore and dismantled by hand at shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, where the controversial ‘beaching’ method continues to be the predominant means of disposal for end-of-life vessels, according to data released earlier this year by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

Shipbreaking yards in places like Alang, Gadani and Chittagong are notorious for their often-abysmal safety records and hazardous working conditions. Although certain yards in the regions have made strides to align their operations with international standards for the safe ship recycling, the shipbreaking industry in South Asia continues to be marked by its lax safety oversight and frequent, often-fatal accidents.

In 2017, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform recorded at least 10 deaths at yards in Gadani, eight fatal accidents in Alang, and 15 deaths in Bangladeshi yards, where another 22 workers were seriously injured in accidents.