Monster ships get more and more monstrous as shipments increase | Columns
“Yes, I am a pirate, 200 years too late. Cannons do not thunder, there is nothing to loot, I am a victim of fate for over 40 years. Arrive too late. Arrive too late.
These lines are from “A Pirate Looks at 40”, which is one of my favorite Jimmy Buffet songs. Buffet romanticized the golden age of pirates, which was supposed to have ended centuries ago. However, he was a little premature in his assessment.
In April, two ships traveling the Singapore Strait were attacked and stolen by pirates, and a crew member was injured. Last year, 30 such incidents were recorded in this area.
Last month, pirates attacked a Ghanaian ship in the Gulf of Guinea and kidnapped five crew members. This month, officials warned pirates were expanding their footprint in the area and called on shipping companies to be extra cautious. So far this year, 61 crew members have been kidnapped in piracy incidents there.
Meanwhile, Nigerian pirates are venturing further and further from the coastline.
Piracy is growing as maritime shipments themselves increase and become a more important part of global trade, especially as the world tries to get back to normal after suffering a brutal pandemic.
In May, the Port of Long Beach broke its cargo record by handling more than 907,000 TEUs – the highest volume in the port’s 110-year history. TEU, or Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit, is the measure of cargo capacity used in ports and ocean shipments. It is based on the volume of a 20 foot long intermodal container.
Compared to May 2020, the cargo volume at the Port of Long Beach increased by 44%.
The business has grown so much that Home Depot recently chartered its own container ship in an effort to keep inventory high in North America.
The Port of Los Angeles has set cargo handling records for 10 consecutive months. Compared to 2020, freight shipments have increased by 74% this year.
Last month, the port handled more than one million TEUs, a record not only for the 114-year-old port but for the Western Hemisphere. The port reports that vessel productivity has increased by 50% in recent years.
What increases the productivity of ships? One element is the size of the vessels. Years ago, on a trip to Tokyo, I decided to explore the city on my own, using the extensive metro system. I quickly got lost and found myself in a shipyard where ships were being loaded. I had never seen such large ships so close. They took my breath away.
The ships I saw that day were puny compared to those that carry cargo today. In mid-May, the 1,300-foot container ship CMA CGM Marco Polo arrived in the port of New York. It is the largest ship to ever land on the east coast of the United States
To put its enormity into perspective, it’s taller than the Empire State Building. When she first sailed in 2013, she was the largest container ship the world had ever seen. Today it is not even in the top 50 of the largest container ships.
At present, the largest ship in the world is the HMM Algeciras. It is 1,312 feet long and 200 feet wide, the size of 3.64 football fields.
He will not hold the title for long. Mediterranean Shipping Company, an Italian-Swiss company, has a ship on order for delivery in 2023 capable of handling 24,232 TEUs. These ships look more like cities on the move than ships.
The explosion in maritime shipments has resulted in ports relying on cargo ships waiting to be loaded and unloaded. It has also resulted in a shortage of freight containers to transport the products. An owner of a container logistics company told me that she is running out of 20ft containers and has been waiting for weeks for an order she placed.
So the next time you put on your clothes, play on your smartphone, give your child a toy, kick a soccer ball, or get in your Toyota, know that these items likely crossed the ocean in a container ship. monstrous to eventually reach you.