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A beauty long gone, but not forgotten...SS Norway (France)


From this report in today's media, it appears that France will be destroyed after all....we shall have to wait and see if this is the case though as there isn't any confirmation as such...

New Delhi: Almost one in every six workers dismantling old boats at Alang shipyard in Gujarat suffers from asbestos poisoning, experts said in a report sure to fuel criticism of an industry long dogged by charges of unsafe working conditions.

The experts, appointed by Supreme Court to look into conditions at Alang, also found a fatal accident rate six times that of the country's notoriously unsafe mining industry.

International and local environmental and labor groups have for years urged Indian authorities to sharply curtail – or simply stop – the work being done at the yard, where old ships are run aground in the shallows just offshore and then dismantled largely by hand.

The dangers faced by the 5,000 workers at the yard on the shores of the Gulf of Cambay in western state of Gujarat were spotlighted in February when protests by environmental groups forced the French and Indian governments to call off plans for the decommissioned French aircraft carrier Clemenceau to be broken up at Alang.

The environmentalists said the ship was filled with up to 1,000 tons of asbestos, along with other toxic waste.

The expert committee, appointed by the Supreme Court during the controversy over the Clemenceau, found 16 per cent of the workers at Alang suffer from an early stage of asbestosis – an irreversible lung condition that could lead to lung cancer, according to the Indian Express, which obtained a copy of the unpublished report.

''In ships brought for breaking, free asbestos is usually present as thermal insulation of boilers and floor tiles. When this asbestos is removed, its particles become airborne and attack the lungs,'' the report said, according to the paper.

It normally took more than 10 years for full-blown asbestosis to develop, but its onset is hastened with higher levels of exposure, the report said.

The Express said the report was given to the Supreme Court last week, but neither court officials nor members of the expert committee were immediately available for comment Wednesday. However, a member of Ban Asbestos Network of India, Gopal Krishna, said he had seen the report and confirmed the account given in Express.

The network earlier this year filed a petition with the Supreme Court to stop another ship, a former cruise liner known as the Blue Lady, from being broken at Alang. But the court said the dismantling of the Blue Lady, formerly the SS France, could go ahead.



Some two and a half months have now passed since Norway was beached at Alang. No decision has been reached as to her future. There is still a glimmer of hope that she can still be saved from breaking.



The fight isn't over...

ALANG, India - The SS Norway, once one of America's premier cruise ships, stands on death's edge off the coast of rural India, a battleground in the international struggle over the controversial practice of ship breaking.

Permanently laid up by a 2003 boiler-room explosion that killed eight crew members in Miami, the ship was towed halfway around the world to India and run aground at Alang, a six-mile stretch of beach that's the world's largest ship-scrapping yard.

Here, the Norway is to be picked apart by hundreds of workers, its pieces sold for scrap. But like a death row inmate, its fate remains in limbo.

Environmentalists have sued to stop the ship from being broken apart, arguing that more than 1,300 tons of "asbestos-containing material," mostly wall and ceiling panels, should have been removed in Europe, where safety standards are higher, before the Norway was towed from Germany to Malaysia and then to Alang.

That lawsuit has frightened India's ship-breaking industry. Business already is slow because of competition from Bangladesh and a slowdown in the global ship-scrapping market. If ship owners are forced to detoxify their ships in Europe, they may find it more cost-effective to junk them there too.

Last February, environmentalists got the French government to recall the Clemenceau, an asbestos-laden 1960s-era aircraft carrier that was headed to Alang. Now they've asked the Indian Supreme Court to block the scrapping of the Norway, which has been renamed the Blue Lady. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 4.

Nikhil Gupta, the secretary of the Ship Recycling Industries Association (India), which represents the ship-breaking companies at Alang, begs environmentalists for a chance.

"If we are able to successfully scrap the Blue Lady, they will have no answer to it, and maybe it will open the gates to more Blue Ladys or Clemenceaus," he said in an interview in Bhavnagar, the nearest major city to Alang. "And if we are unable to do it, maybe they are right, and we will need to improve."

For many years, the ship-scrapping yards at Alang were the most notorious in the world. Before the slowdown, tens of thousands of workers toiled under the hot sun for $2 a day, cutting great ships apart with torches and salvaging whatever could be resold. Many lived in hovels. Little, if any, safety equipment was used.

Two of every 1,000 workers died from 1995 to 2005, a death rate nearly six times higher than in the mining industry, which is considered one of the most dangerous in India. The most common causes were falling from great heights, fire and being hit by falling objects.



The industry thrived on a simple economic principle: It was cheaper to use hundreds of workers to tear apart a ship on a beach in India than to hoist it out of the water at a dry dock in Europe and rely on machines - operated by fewer but much higher-paid workers - to do the job.

Environmentalists would like to reverse that trend. "The correct way to do this job is not as labor-intensive as it is done in India," said Seattle-based activist Jim Puckett, who acknowledges that changes could doom Alang. "Without the cheap labor advantage, India will no longer be seen as an economical choice."

Another factor clouds the debate: jobs. Despite the safety risks, workers from impoverished regions of India travel 1,000 miles to find work at Alang. For worker advocates, that presents a conundrum.

"Our stand is clear. We are not for unsafe work," said Arun Mehta, a trade union leader and Gujarat state secretary of the Communist Party of India. But, he added, "We are in favor of the ship-breaking industry. We want more employment generated in the ship-breaking yards."

The number of ships broken down at Alang fell from a peak of 361 in 1998 to 101 last year. Employment has plunged to fewer than 5,000 workers from 35,000.

A shipping boom is keeping older ships at sea, so fewer are being scrapped. And Alang, once the global leader in ship breaking, now trails Bangladesh, where wages are even lower and the price of scrap steel is higher.

The ship breakers are scrambling to keep business in Alang.

Safety training and equipment have been introduced. A new asbestos-disposal plant stands near the breaking yards. The industry group is negotiating with Indian hazardous-waste companies to take over removing the asbestos, which is thought to cause cancer and can produce a sometimes-fatal lung condition called asbestosis.

"We cannot carry on with the Stone Age ways of doing it," said Bipin Aggarwal, the vice president of the ship-breakers association. "The world is changing. Everything is becoming global. All these rules and regulations have to be observed. We cannot ignore them indefinitely."

Puckett dismissed the industry efforts. "It's window dressing," he said. "India is so far away from the conditions to do the job correctly that these efforts are seen as futile."

However the environmental questions are resolved, a mystery still surrounds how the Norway came to leave Europe. The European Union bans member countries from exporting hazardous waste to poor countries.

Nonetheless, in May 2005, the Norway was able to leave the German port of Bremerhaven, where it had been towed after the Miami explosion.

Environmentalists accuse Star Cruises Ltd., the Malaysia-based owner of the Norway, of concocting a cover story that it intended to reconstruct the ship in Malaysia as a hotel or training ship. A German state government minister said he believed that that was the reason the ship was being towed to Malaysia.

Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Lines, a Star Cruises subsidiary that operated the Norway, denied that its parent had misrepresented the Norway's likely future to the German government. In a statement, Norwegian said Star Cruises hadn't decided to scrap the ship when it left Germany and had continued to look for a buyer until December.

But a July 2005 letter from lawyers for Norwegian to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seems to contradict that, saying Star Cruises decided in late 2004 that "the most likely scenario for disposal of the ship would be sale for salvage."

In any case, five months after arriving in Malaysia, the ship was sold for scrapping. In a letter to shareholders, Star Cruises said the sale netted $14.1 million.

The ship's saga was hardly over. Bangladesh refused to give permission to scrap the ship there because it contained asbestos. Last May, the ship was towed out of Malaysia's Port Klang to Alang, where it sits in the mud, awaiting word from the Indian Supreme Court.

Maybe Norway...and now Monterey who joined her this week, will be saved.



Media reports are saying that the decision regarding Norway's fate will come in an Indian Supreme Court hearing on December 4th 2006.

The ship has been dragged up the beach further at Alang and has now been joined by the now ex MSC liner Monterey.

Cruise ship fans from around the world have never given up fighting for Norway and pressure has been considerable against her breaking on enviromental grounds as well as that of the safety of Alang's workforce.

The waiting game could soon be over for this old lady of the seas, hopefully the outcome will be a positive one.



A last-DITCH effort has been launched in an attempt to save one of Southam-pton's most famous transatlantic visitors, SS France, from being scrapped.

If the liner is successful in cheating the breaker's yard it would be another remarkable twist in a story in which the ship previously narrowly escaped an ignominious end.

Once the epitome of French chic on the Atlantic route between Southampton and New York, the liner is languishing at an Indian breakers' yard waiting for demolition gangs to move in.

However, in a race against time an organisation has been formed aimed at buying back the liner, later known as SS Norway and then Blue Lady, and returning her to Europe where she will be converted into a hotel, an education centre, museum and tourist attraction moored on the River Seine.

Urgent The president of the newly-formed Club Le France Prestige, Jean Philippe Prieur, has issued an urgent appeal to anyone who remembers the ship when she was a regular visitor to Southampton d ocks and who would like to help preserve this unique vessel by purchasing shares in the liner to save it from being turned into razor blades.

This is going to be a tough challenge for the organisation, based in the picturesque French Normandy fishing village of Honfleur, as steel now fetches high prices on the international market making the liner, once the longest in the world, an attractive proposition to be cut up and sold.

SS France, with her distinctive winged funnels, was once a familiar sight in Southampton from 1962 on her maiden voyage up to 1974, when rising costs forced her owners to withdraw her from service and lay her up, abandoned and awaiting an unknown fate.

In 1979 France, was reprieved from the scrapyard when she was bought and converted into a successful Caribbean cruise ship, sailing under the name SS Norway. She is pictured right at Southampton docks in the late 1990s.

For many years Norway earned a good living taking thousands of people on Caribbean cruises and the occasional transatlantic crossing to Southampton.

A few years ago Norway suffered a major explosion in her engine room while alongside her berth in Miami which sealed her fate as a cruise ship.

There were several plans to turn her into a floating casino in the Far East but eventually a contract was signed with a firm of Indian ship-breakers for her demolition.

"We know that we can still save France from being dismantled,'' said Monsieur Prieur. "There will be a lot of restoration work, furniture will have to be remade and thousands of other details to be put right. This ship is a part of maritime history and we must not lose it.'' Shares in the liner cost 55 euros and all money will be repaid if the scheme is not successful.



The fate of Norway is anticipated to be finalised tomorrow, December 4th. There are many many people worldwide who are hoping that the Indian Supreme Court decide to turn the ship away and refuse permission to break her up. She has been dragged further up the beach at Alang, joined now by another venerable old lady, Monterey. It would be wonderful to have both these classic ships saved and turned into something to be proud of and to help generations to come see what the real glory days were, when these ships plied the oceans in a style and grace that has, in alot of ways, been lost now. These two ships were in service for over 40 years, they have a huge following of people who had their first ocean voyage aboard them and those who celebrated other special events...or just revelled in the joys of relaxing on an open deck with a chilled drink in hand.

I can't help but wonder if Freedom of the Seas will end up on that very same beach in 20 or so years time...cast off, unwanted through running costs or failing popularity...who can say.

One thing for sure, Freedom of the Seas and all the other glitzy liners of now would not have been around if it hadn't been for Norway, Monterey and all the other lost ships that went before them.



NEW DELHI, Dec 4 (Reuters) - India's Supreme Court ordered a state pollution authority on Monday to report within a month if a controversial Norwegian cruise liner could be dismantled safely or needs to be sent back due to its alleged toxic content.

Environmentalists, led by Greenpeace, say the 46,000-tonne ship, the Blue Lady, contains more than 900 tonnes of toxic waste like asbestos, risking the health of poorly equipped workers at the Alang ship-breaking yard in the western state of Gujarat.

In June, the court allowed Blue Lady to enter Indian waters but appointed an expert committee to look into how much toxic waste was on board, before it could be broken. The panel cleared the ship's scrapping.

On Monday, the court ordered the Gujarat Pollution Control Board to study both the panel report and a dismantling plan submitted by the ship's purchasers and decide whether it could be scrapped under safeguards.

The court also repeated a warning that work could not start without its permission.

"No action will be taken without this court's permission," a two-judge bench said.

In February, the French government recalled the former aircraft carrier Clemenceau, which had been heading for Alang, after a lengthy campaign by Greenpeace, which said the ship carried toxic waste.

A Greenpeace report published last year said thousands of workers in the ship-breaking industry in countries such as India, China and Pakistan had probably died over the past two decades in accidents or due to exposure to toxic waste.

Although the court-appointed panel has cleared the Blue Lady ship for dismantling, environmentalists insist that it should be asked to go back as it had entered India "illegally".

"The contaminants aboard the ship were not disclosed as required" by international norms, Research Foundation for Science and Technology, a voluntary group which has challenged the ship's entry into Indian waters, told the court.



The US media have published a letter regarding the asbestos onboard Norway, before she was released from Bremerhaven. It is damning, as since Norway arrived on the beach at Alang it has come to everyone's notice that the strict EU guidelines about scrapping of 'toxic materials' within ships had to be dealt with before a ship leaves for an outside EU country for breaking up. This letter pretty much drops everyone in the mire from NCL/Star. The Bremerhaven authorities were told that all toxic substances had been removed or were going to be removed before the ship was sent to India......the Bremerhaven authorities would not have released the ship had they not had these assurances as ignoring the problem onboard Norway would have landed Bremerhaven in very serious legal trouble. This letter is a dreadful indictment of the way Norway was removed from Europe under what can only be described as a tissue of lies....

A translation of MP Rainder Steenblock's letter to the "Garbage Recycling and Soil Protection Authority" within the Port Authority of Bremerhaven, dated March 3, 2005:

"Dear Ms Watermann,

The SS Norway is presently moored in the Lloyd shipyard in Brmerhaven. After an engine explosion in 2003 it was taken across the Atlantic from Miami to Bremerhaven. The US owner NCL announced they would scrap the ship as they couldn't find a buyer.

A French resort operator was interested in turning the ocean liner into a hotel but had to give up on the project due to the high cost of necessary asbestos removal.

Now, the SS Norway is supposed to be cleared out in Bremerhaven prior to being scrapped in Alang/India. As you know, Alang Sosiya has a sad and misfamous reputation as a scrapping yard. Like in other developing countries, the safety and environmental standards applied here are inadequate. Ships are being dismantled manually directly on the beach by poorly trained workers. A multitude of toxic substances is released this way. Workers handle the parts with their bare hands and carry them on their shoulders. Non-recyclable materials like oil, asbestos-containing casing or other substances are simply drained, burned or buried.

The beaches are contaminated this way and so are the ground waters. Workers weld apart ship walls without wearing masks. Lead, cadmium and other toxic substnces from the paint used are released and inhaled. The migrant workers on the yards risk their lives on a daily basis. Oil pipes and tanks can explode any time. Workers get killed by parts breaking off the ships,

Some contract terminal diseases due to the contact with asbestos dust, heavy-metal contaminated smoke, polycyclical aromates and dioxine.

Workers can rarely recover in an uncontaminated environment, most live, eat, sleep in the direct vicinity of their work places/emission sources. Alan Sosiva Workers speak of "A day - a ship - a dead body".

Therefore, let me ask you: Will the asbestos on the ship be removed prior to selling it to India? Which steps are you planning to take re. the Norway?

In the interest of humans and the environment, I'm asking you to see to it that an adequate and environmentally safe asbestos removal is guaranteed.

Yours kindly, Rainder Steenblock"
Legally, the ship would not have been released from Bremerhaven unless the asbestos and other harmful substances had been removed. This was not done, hence the drawn out legal battle in India and the Indian Supreme Court demanding a proper report into the condition of the ship and what lies beneath the facades on her. Norway may potentially be the biggest hornets nest in existance and NCL/Star along with Bremerhaven port authorities are all in the direct firing line over the mishandling of this ship. Norway could completely change the way that ships are broken in the future, which for those in and around Alang, probably would not be a bad thing. The French have already felt the wrath of the Indian court system with their carrier Clemonceau which was returned from Alang on toxicity worries.....Bremerhaven could be bracing itself for a similar outcome, even if they prove that they were duped by NCL/Star into releasing the ship.


Liner with asbestos will not be broken up

Environmentalists hailed a ruling by the Indian Supreme Court to ban the dismantling of a French-built cruise liner laden with asbestos at Alang, the world’s largest ship-breaking yard.

The court also ordered the authorities in Gujarat state to find out if the Blue Lady, which was the world’s longest passenger ship when it was launched as the SS France in 1961, could be sent back to its owners.

The Blue Lady is the latest in a series of ships targeted by environmentalists aiming to clean up the ship-breaking industry. One in six workers at the Alang yard have showed symptoms of asbestosis.

The Blue Lady is beached about 4,000 feet (1,200 metres) off the coast of Alang, 160 miles northwest of Bombay.

The 361-metre ship was hailed as a symbol of French national pride when it was launched. First decommissioned in 1974, it was sold to Norweigian Cruise Liners, renamed the Norway and given an $80 million (£40.5 million) overhaul. Its active service ended after a boiler explosion killed seven crew members in 2003.

In April this year, it was sold for scrap and renamed the Blue Lady. Since then, owners from America, Liberia, and most recently India have been trying to break apart the ship and sell it for scrap.

But Greenpeace and other environmental activists say that it contains 1,200 tonnes of harmful polychlorinated biphenyls and asbestos. “Alang does not have the facilities to properly manage hazardous materials,” Greenpeace said in a statement. Ramapadi Kumar, a spokesman for Greenpeace India, said: “The court has vindicated our position.”



The ex-Norway and former France, renamed Blue Lady, is still sitting in Alang, India awaiting scrapping. In early December, the Indian Supreme Court ruled against granting permission for her dismantling over environmental concerns.

The Court forwarded the shipbreaking plans submitted by Priya Blue Industries, to the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, who will determine whether or not the plans meets the requirements for safe dismantling of the ship and disposal of any hazardous products on-board, including asbestos.

The next hearing on the former Norway’s fate is scheduled to take place on March 7.


Norway's future will be decided on March 7th. Everyone knows that some pretty shadey deals were done to get her where she is now. She has some hull damage from being winched up the beach, which could prevent her being refloated if the Indian Supreme Court judgement goes in the direction of saving her.

Each day that she is out of the water is making her superstructure progressively worse condition.

If the Supreme Court does decide to ban her break up in Alang, it could potentially put Star Cruises very close to being out of business, they are struggling financially.

There are so many people who want her saved...March 7th, we should know one way of another.


The Murky Case of the Blue Lady

The murky case of the Blue Lady may sound like an Agatha Christie novel, and indeed, like the eminent author's plots, this one is just as intriguing if not as convoluted, if a report in the Times of India is accurate.

Better known as the ss NORWAY, the BLUE LADY currently half sits on the beaches of Alang awaiting final permission for the breakers torches to do their worst.

But as in Ms Christie's books, nothing in the case of the old NORWAY is as simple as it sounds.

She was towed towards Alang amidst a fierce international and Indian row over whether or not she should be scrapped there. In May 2006 petitioners filed an application to the Supreme Court of India asking the court to ensure the vessel complied with international law, and the Court's own orders of 2003, before it was permitted to be beached and broken up at Alang. The Gujarat Maritime Pollution board banned the ship from entering Indian waters.

The following month the Supreme Court ruled that permission had to be given to allow the vessel safe anchorage in Indian waters pending any further decisions, because to allow her to wander the oceans would not exactly be the wisest option for an old ship that might have to battle a monsoon or two.

Although she now had permission to enter Indian waters, she instead was towed on the 13th June to Fujairah in the UAE. One of her tugs puts in for repairs there. She left the port on the 17th and (bear in mind she did not have permission yet to be beached), heads for Pipavav Port, a distance of 65 km from Alang itself, and drops anchor.

After much inspections and reports the ship was finally given the green light to be ran onto the Alang beaches and on August 15th 2006 the old lady finally reaches the graveyard and is partly beached.

The wrangles continued from then on throughout the rest of 2006

This year, despite being a main objector in the previous year, the Gujarat Pollution Board in a report to the court this month said that any attempts now to float her about again would be very costly and unwise, therefore, India was quite literally stuck with her and they would have to continue with dismantling no matter what objections were raised.

However, just as the plot seems to have got boring, in comes a spanner. A petition to the court is now claiming that the run to the UAE that the Blue Lady made, even after permission was granted for her to enter Indian waters, has something decidedly fishy about it.

Quite what the petitioner thought she was up to is hinted at as the petition says the shifting of the vessel raises concerns 'about breach of national security besides flouting of court orders'

According to the Times of India this is with reference to a passage in a report of the Indian Directorate of Naval Intelligence which believed " ...(any) vessel bound for ship-breaking has genuine cover to anchor everywhere for emergency repairs. This would afford ample opportunity to the crew to indulge in activities detrimental to our security"

It would appear then that with all other avenues lost to objectors the only other course is to imply the vessel was engaged in something 'nefarious' when she went that trip to the UAE.

Either the petitioner, or the Times of India, are barking up the wrong tree or this case is too big a one even for Miss Marple...

(Shipping Times)

NEW DELHI: The 'Blue Lady' may now be beached at Alang, but the SC case of the vessel seems to be sinking into murkier waters. 'Blue Lady', which SC allowed to be anchored at Alang pending the ruling, instead sailed to UAE and remained anchored at Fujairah for two days, a petitioner claimed.

In the wake of a 2004 report of the Directorate of Naval Intelligence, reportedly recording that "some ships arriving at the breaking yards...may be involved in nefarious activities", the petitioner has raised concerns about breach of national security besides flouting of court orders in the affidavit filed on Monday.

In May 2006, the Union ministry of environment and forests submitted a technical committee report to SC saying as the owners had claimed the ship could not be safely anchored in high waters, it be permitted to anchor in Indian territorial waters. On June 5, SC on the basis of the ministry report, allowed the ship to be anchored off Alang on humanitarian grounds. Instead, the PIL alleged, the ship was towed all the way to UAE and docked at Fujairah for two days before being towed back to Indian territorial waters on June 30, 25 days after obtaining the SC order.

The claims are bound to bring another angle to the case in the wake of the report of Directorate of Naval Intelligence. It had said the directorate believed ...(any) vessel bound for ship-breaking has genuine cover to anchor everywhere for emergency repairs. This would afford ample opportunity to the crew to indulge in activities detrimental to our security".

(Times of India)


I am dense...I dont' understand what the accusations are that they are eluding to in the articles. :confused:

Here's a nice picture of the Old Blue lady on her first docking in NYC back in 1980.


Mary, Star Cruises told lies about Norway. When she left Bremerhaven they told the port authorities that she was going for refit. The European Union has a law forbidding ships from being scrapped in third world countries due to asbestos etc...so they had to lie to get her out of port. Then it was a tissue of lies after lies when she reached Port Klang in Malaysia and again UAE. Then Star sold her to a breaker which went against Malaysian law....the name was changed to Blue Lady without permission and she was beached at Alang without permission.


Star broke every rule in the book Mary. The ship was sposed to remain at anchor in Alang Bay...she was beached completely without permission. Her future will be decided on March 7th when the Indian Supreme Court sits and goes through the evidence presented to them.


It's interesting...who knew there was so much interest and so many laws governing these old ships. It makes sense when you think about it with all the potential for environmental snafu's it could cause. I just never thought much about it before.



March 12: The Indian Supreme Court has given the Gujarat Maritime Board, the Technical Experts Committee, and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board three months to advise if certain environmental stipulations can be met for the dismantling of BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY). This is the latest in delays for a decision on the fate of the famed ship, which was beached on August 15, 2006. Although the court has determined that BLUE LADY cannot now be removed from the embankment, the newest concern seems to be over whether 80 percent of the ten metric tons of asbestos on board can be reused as claimed, how asbestos dust will be contained during its removal, and which agency will be entrusted to oversee the work.