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Ship Recycling Project Management

SWEL were approached by a Marine Salvage Company with a view to managing the compliant in situ removal of two fishing vessels from a harbor in Cornwall. The vessels were both of a wooden hull, and had fallen in to a state of disrepair.

The advantage of in situ recycling of a ship will become necessary when the vessel in question is no longer seaworthy, and unable to be safely moved to a dry dock for dismantling, which is the best option environmentally in available.

Ship Recycling Project Management - Vessel One

The first vessel to be removed in situ was a small 15 meter lugger type fishing vessel, the mast had been removed but most the the below desk equipment was till in place including engines and fuel tanks, which had been emptied by the vessel owners prior to the removal commencing.

Preparation & Depollution

Ship_Recycling_Project_ManagementThe internals were removed, and transported of site via licensed carrier. There was a not great deal of metal in the boat, and the wooden elements of the boat were badly rotten.

The vessel had originally operated as a sailing boat (aided via a deck mounted capstan winch), and as such was very heavily ballasted, the keel had also been modified on numerous occasions and was impossible to cut using conventional methods. This was because at some point the keel had been extended down wards using a 100mm x 120mm box section, which was filled with concrete. This was a stubborn combination. 

Sectioning & Removal



Once the keel had been cut the vessel was then separated in to sections ready for lifting (via heavy HIAB). Some of the sections weighed up to 8 tons, and were on the safe limit of limiting for the equipment used.

Overall the vessel contained approximately 30 tons of wood, and around 2 tons of metals (steel and iron).

Ship Recycling Project Management - Vessel Two

The second vessel to be recycled in situ was some what larger than the first, 21 meters long, 6 meters in the beam. Height varied from 3.4 meters to 4.3 meters.

Removal of Super Structure

ship_recycling_ukAfter the heavier deck items had been removed we prepared to move up the boat to the land ward end of the quay. The boat was re-floated and pulled along to her final resting place. Having been neglected for close to a decade the boat had lots of leaks and the re floating took a number of tides before success was achieved.

Thermal cutting was avoided where possible, with good use being made of conventional methods, as pictured!

Sectioning & Removal

ship_recycling_ukLifting out the sections was challenging, the space restrictions limited the size of the crane that could be used.

Having successfully completed these two in situ vessel removals / ship recycling projects, SWEL have identified various weaknesses in the process, particularly on the side of environmental mitigation.  We can apply mitigation methods that we have leant for other environmental sectors such as contaminated lad so as to effectively deal with issues such as bilge water.

Dismantling a small ship requires a very large amount of paper work, as well as the practical considerations there are tens of legal and protocol based considerations that have to be made also.

Ship Recycling in the UK, involves the overlap of marine, terrestrial environmental, safety regulations, and as such should not be thought as a a solely practical exercise.

In summary in situ recycling of un-seaworthy vessels can be carried out with low risk to the environment, provided the project is carefully planned. It is an inferior choice when considering the alternative of a dry dock, but if there is no other option it can be done in a manner that is not detrimental to the environment.

Ship Recycling Project Management - Picture Gallery

Click on any of the below images to enlarge.