Based in Brownsville, Texas, International Shipbreaking has built a global reputation for recycling some of the world’s largest ships and ensuring the material goes straight back into a sustainable, circular economy.
“Right now, we’re the most advanced shipbreaking operation in the United States and we’re working hard to become the most advanced shipbreaking operation in the world,” says Chris Green, President of International Shipbreaking LLC.
The company was developed by two investment bankers in 1995 to service the US Navy. “They were looking towards a future where the Navy would be decommissioning its supercarriers and would need a trusted partner to recycle them,” explains Chris. “International Shipbreaking’s business model has been based on building up a reputation for safety and high environmental standards – alongside competitive pricing – so that when customers, such as the US Navy, are looking for a shipbreaking partner, our company is the first choice.”
Joining the EMR family in 2010, it's an approach which has now paid off for International Shipbreaking. When seven supercarriers were up for recycling in 2014, the company invested heavily in infrastructure required to safely secure and recycle these enormous vessels and was awarded the contract to process five of them.
The formula for the firm’s success can be broadly split into two areas, Chris says:
“Firstly, our business has always invested its profits back into the operation. We have always adapted and innovated what we do to match the requirements of our customers and the wider metal recycling industry. At one end of the scale, we are developing state-of-the-art robotic tools that can work alongside our team to further increase safety. We also accelerated plans to expand our Brownsville site to two mooring sites, allowing us to recycle two US Navy Supercarriers simultaneously.”
The second element that has driven International Shipbreaking’s success is its commitment to transparency and accountability.
“I’m incredibly proud of the standards we maintain. Due to the complexity of the ships and marine structures we recycle, we are continuously reviewing our processes to ensure they are the most effective and safest,” says Chris.
Of course, recycling ships that have sailed in the US Navy for more than half a century requires a unique level of respect and International Shipbreaking works with both the US Navy itself and veterans’ groups to ensure that those who have served on-board can say goodbye to their former homes and workplaces.
“When we were preparing to recycle our first aircraft carrier, the USS Constellation (CV 64), we wanted to do something special to mark her arrival. We were expecting hundreds of people in attendance; However over 4,000 retired US Navy sailors and family wanted to attend. This was well over our capacity, however we were able to partner with the Cameron County and Port of Brownsville, Texas, to make this event happen for USS Independence (CV 62) and USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) arrivals.”
Chris’s career began in 1999 when he graduated from the Texas A&M Maritime Academy with a degree in Marine Sciences.
“I decided to work for a government-contracted ship operating company in Houston. They had a contract to provide oversight for ship recycling companies and that’s what gave me a start in this industry,” he says.
After founding and operating his own consulting company, Green Shipbreaking Inc, for a little over ten years, Chris joined International Shipbreaking in 2013.
“I had watched EMR take over the business in 2010, did some research and decided that this was the company that I wanted to work for. I joined as the Environmental Health and Safety Manager as I’ve always had a passion for this part of the operation,” he adds.
In 2016, Chris then became President of International Shipbreaking and, he says, he hasn’t looked back since.
“There’s never a dull moment here. I get to put my boots on and board these huge, historic ships such as the USS Kitty Hawk and see these projects from start to finish. Every ship we safely recycle sees us rachet up our operations and continuing that journey of improvement and innovation – this is what sets our operation apart and drives me on every single day.”