Schulte commits to scrapping convention

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German bulk- to-container shipping giant, Thomas Schulte, has become the first global shipping company to voluntarily commit itself to the requirements of the Hong Kong Convention on Ship Recycling even though entry into force of the convention is expected to take at least another five years.

Hamburg-based Schulte, which operates a fleet of almost 50 vessels, has contracted Germanischer Lloyd to issue certificates for the fleet of 33 existing and 18 new container ships.

The convention, adopted in May 2009, will require vessels to carry an Inventory of Hazardous Materials, a ship specific document that lists all materials onboard a ship that may be hazardous to health or the environment, and that require careful handling or special awareness.

To date only France has signed up to the convention which will make an IHM mandatory for all new and existing ships above 500 tons gross, covering all materials used for constructing and equipping ships. The emphasis will be on materials already identified as hazardous which might still be found in shipyards, shiprepair yards and onboard ship.

IHM preparation for new vessels will rely on the exchange of information between shipyards and their suppliers. Thousands of documents will be involved and, as some 50,000 existing vessels will have to comply with the convention within five years of ratification, early implementation will allow for smoother preparation and certification, according to Germanischer Lloyd.

Schulte’s in-house technical management vehicle OCEAN Shipmanagement has charged the class society-approved HazMat expert company Environmental Protection Engineering in Greece with preparation of the IHM.

OCEAN Shipmanagement technical director Frank Heidrich said Schulte considered ship recycling to be an integral part of the life cycle management of ships. “Our responsibility for the vessels is beginning at the design and construction stage and ends with the demolition. Ships have to be recycled at the end of their operational life in a safe and environmental sound manner,” he added.

The Hong Kong Convention also creates a new requirement for owners to sell ships only to recycling facilities that meet the standards and have been authorised by the national ‘competent authorities’. Recycling facilities will be required to prepare a Ship Recycling Plan to specify the processes under which a ship will be recycled, depending on its particulars and its IHM. All parties will be required to take effective measures to ensure that ship recycling facilities under their jurisdiction comply with the convention.

OCEAN Shipmanagement is one of four group companies through which Schulte handles its fleet management. The others are TWS Chartering & Shipbroking (chartering brokers); Nautilus Crew Management (personnel management) and Blue Water Funds (procurement of shipping investments/private placements).