Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Carrier heads for ghost ship firm

The Clemenceau, once the pride of the French navy, was built in 1957

A French aircraft carrier, which was too toxic to break up in India, is on its way to be scrapped on Teesside.

Hartlepool-based Able UK says the project to dismantle the 32,700-tonne Clemenceau is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

The vessel contains 700 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated material and was recalled to France from India in 2006 amid concerns over its toxic elements.

The vessel left Brest Harbour for its four-day trip to Teesside on Tuesday.

Work on the Clemenceau will take place alongside existing contracts to scrap four former US naval vessels - dubbed ghost ships - which arrived on Teesside in 2004.

'Crucially important'

Able overcame environmental concerns over its recycling plans last year.


The company is due to begin recycling work on the 780ft-long (238 metre) Clemenceau after Easter, creating an additional 200 jobs.

Able UK chief executive, Peter Stephenson, said: "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.

"At a time when there are so many economic problems facing the the North East, it is crucially important that we are in a position to be at the forefront of an industry which has enormous potential for growth and job creation."

The Clemenceau, once the pride of the French navy, has spent the past few years being moved around as officials tried to find a final resting place for the vessel.

Launched in 1957, it sailed more than a million nautical miles before being decommissioned in 1997.

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