The former CMV operated cruise ship ‘Columbus’ is now on her way to Alang for recycling under the name of ‘Colus’.
She arrived at Duqm in Oman on 15th March and sailed two days later for India, according to Marine Traffic AIS’ plot.
Entering service in 1989 having been ordered by Boris Vaslov’s Sitmar Cruises at Chantiers de l’Atlantique in St Nazaire, she was originally named ‘Fair Majesty’.
However, before she was completed, Sitmar Cruises merged with P&O’s Princess Cruises with the result that the ship was renamed ’Star Princess’ before her maiden voyage in that year.
‘Star Princess’ operated for nearly a decade primarily in the Caribbean and Alaska before she was switched to UK-based P&O Cruises becoming the ‘Arcadia’.
She was operated by a casual cruise line brand started by P&O called Ocean Village marketed to younger travellers. Carnival Corp later decided to close the Ocean Village brand and the ship was transferred to P&O Cruises Australia where she cruised for nearly seven years as the ’Pacific Pearl’ in Australia.
‘Columbus’ as she was now was sold at auction for just over $5 mill to Marios Iliopoulos of Seajets, following CMV’s bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform has slammed what it calls the sale of cruise ships to non-compliant Indian sub-continent recyclers.
While major cruise line Carnival Corp has committed to recycling its vessels in a responsible manner, and companies, such as Pullmantur have also chosen EU-vetted recycling facilities for their end-of-life ships, other unscrupulous owners have opted for the more profitable beaching yards in South Asia where conditions are known to put both workers and the environment at risk, the NGO stressed.
It alleged that in doing so, some companies have fraudulently hidden their intention to scrap the vessels in order to circumvent existing waste laws.
The NGO gave the example of the former CMV cruise ships ‘Marco Polo’ and ‘Magellan’, which left the UK for scrapping on the Indian beach of Alang. Auctioned off by CW Kellock in October, 2020, the vessels illegally left UK waters with crew and under own power in November, 2020.
They were believed to contain high amounts of asbestos on board. According to the EU Waste Shipment Regulation, the Basel Convention and equivalent national laws, the export of end-of-life ships laden with asbestos and other toxic materials from the UK to non-OECD countries is banned.
“The many risks involved in taking apart large vessels that contain numerous hazardous substances within their structure need to be managed at sites that can protect workers, safely use heavy lifting cranes, contain pollutants and dispose of hazardous materials in line with international waste laws,” said Ingvild Jenssen, NGO Shipbreaking Platform Director.
The NGO said it had alerted UK authorities about the illegal exports, including also the one related to another asbestos-laden former CMV ship, ‘Astor’, which ended up at a ship recycling yard in Aliaga, Turkey. Whilst Turkey is a legal OECD recycling destination, there are concerns that the transboundary movement from the UK took place without the necessary permission procedures and prior informed consent as required by international waste legislation.
Also auctioned by CW Kellock, ‘Columbus,’ is sailing towards Alang, India. The Platform raised concerns with Greek authorities before the vessel departed from Greece since several sources suggested the vessel was a candidate for scrap.
“We will closely follow the ‘Columbus’ and call upon both Greek and UK authorities to effectively sanction environmental crime. Several cruise companies have shown that it is possible to responsibly manage their ships throughout their lifecycle and have opted for facilities that meet the environmental and safety standards set out in the EU Ship Recycling Regulation,”Jenssen added. “We strongly encourage more companies to follow their lead.”
The NGO also claimed that the ‘Marco Polo’ was bought at auction for around £2 mill by offshore company Highseas Ltd.
After the sale, it was allowed to leave UK waters on the condition it would be used for further trading. HighSeas’ director, Rishi Aggarwal, said the ship would be used as a floating hotel in Dubai.
However, two months after the change of ownership, the vessel was sold as scrap for around £4 mill.
‘Magellan’ was bought by Greek shipowner Marios Iliopoulos through his ferry company Seajets. After departing from the UK, it stopped briefly in Oman before reaching the Indian shipbreaking beach.
Shipowners often hide their true scrapping intentions from authorities in order to get permission to leave European ports. They typically provide fraudulent accounts of repair work or further operational use in order to circumvent international waste laws, the NGO alleged.