In 1960, after a severe cyclone, the Greek ship M D Alpine was stranded on the shores of Sitakunda, Chittagong. It could not be re-floated and so remained there for several years. In 1965, Chittagong Steel House bought the ship and had it scrapped. It took years to scrap the vessel, but the work gave birth to the industry in Bangladesh.
In 2008, there were 26 ship breaking yards in the area, and in 2009 there were 40. From 2004 to 2008, the area was the largest ship-breaking yard in the world. However, by 2012 it had dropped from half to a fifth of worldwide ship-breaking.
Tourists are not usually welcome, but some travellers have been able to sweet-talk the gate-keeper and get amazing photos of massive ships being dismantled for parts and steel. There are many breaking yards stretching for miles, so start at one end and try your luck until you have success. Keep your wits about you, safety practices leave something to be desired. It’s also wise to keep your camera hidden until you’re out of view of the officials, lest you be mistaken for a journalist out to do them harm.
+ *Alang Ship Breaking Yard
Central Railway Building (map). Completed in 1872, it is one of the oldest buildings of the port city.
Chandanpura Masjid / Masjid-e-Siraj ud-Daulah (map). Situated in the old city, the multi-domed mosque is an architectural sight to behold. For its impressive architecture consisting of multiple domes and minarets painted in bright colors the mosque is one of the famous landmarks in the city.