Where Giant Cargo Ships Go to Die
The ship breakers of Bangladesh turn immense vessels into scrap metal.
There aren't too many places left in the world where the practice of ship breaking—scrapping old ships for metal—can still exist. These days, environmental and labor regulations in the developed world have displaced the practice to India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, where cargo carriers are salvaged for their steel.
The largest vessels wind up on the shores of the city of Chittagong in Bangladesh, where the industry has become a vital part of the country's urbanization. It employs roughly 200,000 workers and supplies the country with 80 percent of its steel. Ship breakers beach and dismantle vessels daily wearing flip-flops and T-shirts. It's no easy task, considering ships are constructed to withstand the elements for the 30 years they spend operating on international waters. We decided to check it out.