Cutting the Exteriors
After the interiors are dismantled, the scrapping of the main structure begins. The ship is towed to the main scrapping site or dry docked, if the scrapping is done by afloat method. The scrapping is mostly performed at slips, which are openings on the banks for the ships to slip over. They are of 400- 700 feet long and 100 - 120 feet wide. Winches and cranes are used to pull the ship on the slips.
Before the main process starts, the diagrams of the rooms and tanks are properly studied in order to understand the structure of the ship. Oils, dangerous cargoes or any other hazardous materials are drained out of the tanks and collecting areas. As gas cutting is used, care is taken to see that none of the combustible material remains in the ship in order to prevent explosions and spills. All the cutting torches and saws abide by the regulations of hot permit work approval. Anchors, chains or any other fixtures are also removed prior to dismantling. All the Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) are removed with utmost care from the areas where the cutting is to be done. Paint of the surfaces to be cut are also removed.
The cutting process starts by cutting the superstructure and the upper decks, followed by the main and lower decks. Oxygen fuel cutting torches are used for metal cutting. The structure is first cut into large parts which are then carried by the cranes to the areas where they are cut into small pieces. As the cutting process continues, the ship is pulled gradually over the slips with the help of winches.
In the next article we will learn about the metal cutting of the hull structure and the hazards related to it.