French aircraft carrier to be dismantled in UK

It was the pride of the French navy during its working life but has become a diplomatic embarrassment as efforts to scrap it have repeatedly run aground.

Now the Clemenceau is to finally be dismantled on Teeside.

The aircraft carrier has been causing the French government headaches since it was decommissioned in 1997.

The problems stem from the fact that the 27,000 tonne super-ship contained large quantities of asbestos and other hazardous materials.

In 2006 it was refused passage through the Suez Canal by Egyptian authorities as it sailed for India's Alang breaking yards.

On its eventual arrival in Indian waters it was turned back by the country's courts.

The ship was due to be dismantled in Brest, France but plans have now changed and it will be recycled by Able UK on Teeside alongside four American warships that were themselves a controversial subject prior to their arrival.

Able UK has had to go through a rigorous process to allay environmental concerns before being given the necessary permissions to dismantle the Clemenceau.

The company's chief executive, Peter Stephenson, said it underlined the fact that the company continues to be a world leader in undertaking marine recycling to the highest standards.

"Although preparations for the transfer have been in place for some time, we have had to wait for the right window in the weather to undertake the tow from Brest," he said.

"This is a very important day for both ourselves, our French partners and the ship recycling industry because it underlines the growing recognition of the need for high-quality facilities to meet the increasing demand for responsible ship recycling."

Sam Bond



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