Monday, September 19, 2011

Iron Crows - Shipbreaking

Modern shipping vessels, ships like oil tankers and container ships, help us live our first-world lives with affordable items. But, like how our modern computers often end up in the third world to be broken apart even with the accompanying health hazards, so too do these massive ships. The breaking apart of these ships is the focus of the documentary Iron Crows (NYT review), a powerful and sad film that could have used a bit more of a guiding hand in terms of narration but is still worth seeing. It takes place in Chittagong, Bangladesh, where the shipbreaking takes place.

What is fascinating, although perhaps not unexpected, is that you can easily see the ships of Chittagong, Bangladesh, in Google Maps. Granted the view will change as Google gets newer images, but for now there they are.

Here is a snippet, from the dozens of ships currently viewable. At the bottom, one that is mostly stern. Top left, perhaps that is for natural gas or something that we like to ship in spheres. Top was a cargo ship, it's huge. Along the shore the ships are more in pieces, further out they've just arrived or were too big to get closer to shore. (I have rotated the image 180 degrees, so although the ships are facing the "wrong" direction the image is less disorienting to view.)

Edit: From my friend Anna, see this photo essay at The Economist.