After meeting the criteria outlined in the Hong Kong Convention, plot number 78 was audited again, this time according to the stricter Maersk responsible ship recycling standards. Then negotiations, eventually seeing Maersk vessels arrive to the plot. Shree Ram was given a discount, as compliance with Maersk responsible ship recycling standards results in lower productivity, for improving further and having an onsite Maersk team to oversee and direct the work. This team has the authority to stop-work, which has been exercised 13 times.
“We have even seen improvements during the short time we’ve been here, but things still aren’t perfect. Many of the necessary hardware and capital investments have been made, but what really takes time to change is the safety mindset. I think we are a few years away from changing this, but I am confident we can make it,” says Widge.
Plot number 78 is, however, on the verge of making one more capital investment that promises to be a game-changer. A 300-tonne capacity crane that can lift 50–60 tonne blocks directly from the ship’s bow and put them onto the impermeable floor.
Looking back after nine months on the job, Widge has no regrets. He was captain of a merchant vessel at 28, working for Maersk Line’s Marine Standards Team for close to four years before taking the job with responsible ship recycling, Widge welcomes the new challenge, including the concerns and criticism that NGOs have voiced:
“We are just embarking on this journey, and criticism is welcome. We will collaborate and continue our dialogues with all involved stakeholders. From this point on, we will only be increasing our standards. The way that the Maersk Wyoming and Maersk Georgia are cut will form a baseline and we will set the bar higher when the next vessels come in,” Widge says.
His plan is to engage all involved stakeholders in a constructive dialogue with the key objective of improving the overall ship recycling industry.
“With a sensitive project of this magnitude, no one person or company can make a difference on their own. We are engaging in the development of sustainable ship recycling for the long term.”