The Ship Breakers

Modern steel-hulled ships are built to last for several decades at sea before repair becomes uneconomical. After their useful life is over, more than 90 percent of the world's ocean-going container ships end up on the shores of India, Pakistan, Indonesia, or Bangladesh, where labor is cheap, demand for steel is high, and environmental regulations are lax. The ships are driven right up onto shoreline lots set aside for ship breaking, then attacked by hammer and blowtorch until all usable material has been stripped away to be sold or recycled. The work is extremely difficult, and low-paid workers face significant risks from the dangerous conditions and exposure to materials like asbestos and heavy metals. Environmental groups have raised alarms for years over the continued release of toxins into the environment from these shipyards. Gathered here are images from these yards taken over the past several years.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Juan Oliphant / oneoceandiving.com / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Ice Disk, Pet Blessings, Presidential Burgers

    Teachers on strike in Los Angeles, “Kiss a Ginger Day” in Ireland, a terror attack in Nairobi, fashion shows in Berlin and Paris, the “No Pants Subway Ride” in New York, and much more

  • Ricardo Mazalan / AP

    Photos From the 2019 Dakar Rally

    On January 7, a group of 334 competitors began the 41st annual Dakar Rally: a punishing 10-day, 3,000-mile race across the Peruvian desert.

  • Ilya Terentyev / Getty

    Built to Separate: Border Barriers Around the World

    As more and more walls are built along borders worldwide, a look at some famous and some lesser-known barriers across the globe.

  • Costfoto / Barcroft Media via Getty

    Photos of the Week: Denver Longhorns, Camel Shaving, Hero Pups

    Heavy snow across Central Europe, a partial solar eclipse in China, a Transformer on the streets of Bogota, the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Christmas fire in Saint Petersburg, and much more