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What happens to Decommissioned Container ships?

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How are Container Ships Commissioned?

Ships are commissioned for work after they have been rigorously tested and inspected. This can be anything from warships being dubbed battle ready or cargo ships shown to be structurally sound. These tests are known as sea trials and are used to identify deficiencies that would need to be fixed beforehand.

How do they become Decommissioned?

Ships become decommissioned over time because the sea takes a heavy toll on the structure. This is usually determined when they come to port, and they are inspected. Think of it as a pit stop during a high-speed race, they will see how long it takes to bring the ship back to working order and eventually those repairs will become too costly and thus cargo ships are considered decommissioned.

What happens to them?

There are a few creative ways that cargo ships become decommissioned.

decommissioned cargo ships Cargo Reefs – In Texas, it is incredibly common to take old cargo ships and sink them so they may become artificial reefs that sealife can go and live in. The most famous one of these have been known as the Kraken and was featured in a video dubbed ‘Release the Kraken.’



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Ship Graveyards – When people don’t want to deal with converting ships to reefs, they are sent to ship graveyards to disintegrate over time. In the United States, there are countless such as the phantom fleet in San Francisco, the Staten Island Boat Graveyard, and the Mallows Bay in Maryland.

Ship Breaking – The final result of what happens to cargo ships is called ship breaking. When you have countless ships being dubbed ‘unfit for waters’ every year, what you are essentially doing is creating 20 billion tons of sheet metal. Ships are broken down top to bottom and scraped for parts that can be used in other ships or residential developments.


A1WWL loves being part of this global community and learning what happens to cargo ships we’ve worked with in the past. IF you would like to learn more about our trade or services, please give us a call today!

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