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Mauritanian shipwrecks
November 16, 2010 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Some pictures from the world's largest ship graveyard at Nouadhibou in Mauritania (click 'here', then 'nouadhibou' in the Jan Smith link), or investigate it in Google Maps. Geographical Magazine has an explanation of how the graveyard came about.
posted by Dim Siawns (22 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's amazing how fast natural phenomenonmms can break ships apart.
posted by circular at 1:51 PM on November 16, 2010


Is it actually cheaper to let a ship rot rather than salvage the pieces? Surely the iron and other building materials have positive salvage value?
posted by fremen at 1:56 PM on November 16, 2010


It's amazing how fast natural phenomenonmms can break ships apart.

Hee hee. Natural phenomenOMNOMNOMs. Yup.
posted by Gator at 2:00 PM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


maggots they look like maggots
posted by Pastabagel at 2:01 PM on November 16, 2010


I actually thought they looked liked grains of rice.
posted by ZaneJ. at 2:04 PM on November 16, 2010


Metal! Quick! before the rust eats it all away...
posted by The Lady is a designer at 2:12 PM on November 16, 2010


Related.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:26 PM on November 16, 2010


fremen - the act of salvaging the hulls and other parts of ships is known as ShipBreaking and there are several places where this is done, notably in Bangladesh and Pakistan. (previously and previously) Given the amount of fuel residue, contaminants and general conditions of most ships when they are sent off to be broken, the actual act of salvaging is a horrendously hazardous and unrewarding job; and given the relatively low price of steel and iron, the wages and profits for it are rather slim, so it falls into that unfortunate valley of jobs that are too hazardous and unrewarding to attract skilled talent, and not lucrative, steady or predictable enough to reward an investment in robotic or mechanical labor.
posted by bl1nk at 2:48 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just to clean them up enough to sink them as scuba diving sites is incredibly expensive. There are loads of decommissioned military ships in the US just sitting at docks in some military place. There are also a bunch in Staten Island. Heck, there are basically a bunch anywhere where there is water.
posted by snofoam at 2:54 PM on November 16, 2010


Shaggy and Scooby will be walking by followed by some creepy guy in a mariner costume in 5, 4, 3, 2...
posted by Vavuzi at 2:56 PM on November 16, 2010


A lot of those ships are seriously contaminated with asbestos. (They used to use a lot of it in ships, back in the day.) Breaking them up for scrap steel could only begin after they were decontaminated, which would add a lot of expense.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:07 PM on November 16, 2010


Awesome link, thank you. Also, Mallows Bay in Virginia if you'd like to see pre-WWI boats rotting.
posted by jsavimbi at 4:48 PM on November 16, 2010


In Mallow's Bay, they look very ghostly, underwater.

Here's a WW2 ship graveyard in Suisun Bay, near San Francisco. It may be my imagination, but it seems to be getting smaller every year.
posted by eye of newt at 7:38 PM on November 16, 2010


Also in Virginia: The James River Ghost Fleet
posted by schmod at 9:04 PM on November 16, 2010


Shipbreaking at Alang in India.
posted by Ahab at 9:48 PM on November 16, 2010


bl1nk: "and not lucrative, steady or predictable enough to reward an investment in robotic or mechanical labor"

Wait, this is in... Africa, right? I guess the continent's finally rich and prosperous then if it can afford to let these unrewarding and dangerous jobs pass in favour of, oh, I don't know, diamond mines, child wars and a famine here and there.
posted by Laotic at 12:13 AM on November 17, 2010


It turns out that the Suisun Bay ship graveyard has been getting smaller.

It is interesting that the O'Brien used to be in that graveyard. It is now a museum ship. An old guy working on the dock told me that they filmed all the engine scenes for the movie Titanic on the O'Brien because it has an identical engine.
posted by eye of newt at 12:53 AM on November 17, 2010


The blog from the first link, called Artificial Owl, is really interesting.
posted by Harald74 at 4:22 AM on November 17, 2010


The Mothball Fleet is what we've always called the ones in Suisun Bay - though I see on googling that it's a term applied to all stored fleets anywhere. And yeah, I remember passing them as a child and seeing many, many more than are there now. I always wanted to get in closer and see them up close. Driving past was something we looked forward to, on trips going that way - such a mass of incredibly powerful, huge machines, floating still but maybe still-lethal, only sleeping.

These pictures of the Mauritanian graveyard, though, are eerie and stunning in an entirely different way. It's like a caricature of thrown-out children's toys writ large, their decay only made more spectacular by their sheer bulk and the contrast of the functioning, living people and their functioning cars going about their lives and ignoring the rotting carcasses of steel behemoths in the background.

Wow.
posted by po at 4:48 AM on November 17, 2010


bl1nk: "and not lucrative, steady or predictable enough to reward an investment in robotic or mechanical labor"

Wait, this is in... Africa, right? I guess the continent's finally rich and prosperous then if it can afford to let these unrewarding and dangerous jobs pass in favour of, oh, I don't know, diamond mines, child wars and a famine here and there.
Oh, I didn't realize that Mauritanians had their own blood diamond trafficking issues. Oh wait, that's right ... Africa isn't a country.
posted by bl1nk at 5:24 AM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's powerful stuff. Paolo Bacigalupi mines it pretty heavily in his most recent novel, a near-future coming-of-age story about a young ship-breaker on the US gulf coast.
posted by lodurr at 5:28 AM on November 17, 2010


I first heard of ship-breaking in Max Brooks' fictional oral history World War Z, in which one survirvor recounts his escaping the zombie-overrun subcontinent via a shipbreaking yard. He was among many who fled to the "harbor," only to discover that most of the ships were useless hulks. (The narrator survived because some boaters were picking up refugees in a Dunkirk-like effort.)
posted by Gelatin at 12:46 PM on November 17, 2010


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