While there may have been incredible advances in rail and air travel, commercial shipping still dominates international cargo transport. With an ever-increasing population and flow of commerce, this often overlooked part of modern life can be quite fascinating.
Shipping Still Dominates
An incredible 95% of international cargo is still transported by sea. It is by far the cheapest way of sending goods and that number is going to remain high for a long time. Trucks are obviously limited to land and aircraft have greater space limitations and higher operational costs.
When it comes to container ships, the world’s fleet includes over 5,000 vessels that are dedicated to transporting containers filled with just about anything and everything. Each container holds a huge amount of cargo. Virtually all large countries with some manner of coastline maintain large ports that will send and receive this cargo through a complex process.
Huge cranes with fasteners, eye bolts, and chains are able to lift and place shipping containers where they need to go. In order to maintain a supply chain, marine shipping yards rely on a materials supplier and other professionals to establish an appropriate infrastructure and keep it in operation.
Containers On A Global Scale
If every shipping container was laid down in a row, they would stretch around the circumference of the world twice. That’s a lot of cargo to be moved from one port to the next and also a lot of containers that can potentially be lost at sea.
It is estimated that around 10,000 shipping containers are lost each year, which equates to around one every hour. When you think of that, it’s a lot of full containers now sitting on the floor of the ocean.
The Life Of A Shipping Container
You have probably seen a shipping container in a place far away from the sea. It could be in a scrap yard, storage facility, or even repurposed for residential living. That is because the expected lifespan of most containers is only around 15 years.
Once they have reached the end of their life, they are usually sent off to be sold or recycled. It’s a whole world of shipping, lifting, and logistics that’s required for even small transactions.
It’s easy to understand that rows and rows of massive shipping containers require a huge ship to support their size and weight. The largest container ship in the world is the Maersk Triple E Class, which is able to hold around 18,000 standard size containers. It has a deadweight of 165,000 tons and is an incredible 400 meters long. The fact that these immense vessels are still able to float is a testament to modern shipbuilding.
Such a mammoth ship also needs a huge amount of power to deliver goods from one side of the world to another. Metal, eye bolts, fasteners, and thousands of other components and materials all work together to create such an incredible system.