Facts About The Shipping Industry That Will Baffle You

Most people have little knowledge of the enormous complex that touches almost everything you use, even though it is the industry that runs the world economy. Everything you see around you, from the chair you’re sitting on into the yoghurt you’re eating to the steering wheel in your car, was made possible by an industry that has existed since man first learned to float. Rose George’s book Ninety Percent of Everything recently came out, and it discussed these mind-blowing facts about the international shipping industry.

There is no service.

Approximately two-thirds of ship crews around the world have no means of communication while at sea. Only about 1 in 10 people will have free Internet access.


Somali pirates kidnapped five hundred forty-four seafarers in 2010. More than 2,000 sailors die at sea every year, and two ships go missing every day. In 2012, the number of attacks on seafarers was higher than the number of violent crimes committed in South Africa, the world’s most violent country.

A Long Way to Go

During its regular journey across the oceans, a container ship travels the equivalent of three-quarters of the way to the moon and back in a year.

Expensive ships

The most expensive ships can cost over $200 million to build.

Demographics of Seafarers

Female seafarers make up only about 2% of the total number of seafarers. With nearly a quarter-million people at sea, the Philippines makes up more than a third of all crews worldwide.

Bananas by the Boatload

In nearly 15,000 containers, the largest ships can store 745 million bananas. That’s about one for every European and North American citizen.

An Age-Old Industry

An Age-Old Industry However, it continues to play an important role today.

Gases that cause global warming

In 2009, the world’s 15 largest ships emitted the same amount of greenhouse gas as 760 million cars or roughly two cars per American.

Still the most environmentally friendly.

However, when compared to trucks and planes, shipping remains the greenest mode of transportation.

Some Points of View

After discussing the previous two points, it’s worth noting that shipping would rank sixth on the list of the world’s most polluting countries.

Inspections are lax

Only about 2% to 10% of containers are inspected around the world. Usually, US ports inspect about 5% of the 17 million containers that cross the border each year.

The World’s Largest Fleets

Based on total deadweight tonnage controlled by parent companies based in these countries, Germany, Japan, and Greece have the largest fleets.

Outsiders are disliked

Shipping companies are notorious for their secrecy. The official Greek shipowners’ association, for example, refuses to say how many members it has.

a significant revenue source

In terms of economics, the shipping industry is massive. It accounts for more GDP in the United Kingdom than restaurants, takeaway food, and civil engineering combined.

A large number of containers

If all the containers on one ship were lined up, they could easily stretch nearly halfway around the world. If you stacked them up, they’d be about 7,500 Eiffel Towers tall, and unloading their cargo onto trucks would create a 60-mile traffic jam.

An industry that prioritizes safety

One of the first industries to adopt widely accepted international safety standards was shipping.

It’s a matter of necessity.

In 2011, the United States’ 360 commercial ports received goods worth $1.73 trillion worldwide. Two-thirds of the oil supply in the United States comes from shipping.

Merchant ship classes

General cargo ships, bulk carriers, fishing vessels, container ships, passenger ships, and tankers are the six types of ships in the global fleet.

Fillets are inexpensive to ship.

Fillets are inexpensive to ship. It’s so cheap that instead of filleting its fish, Scotland can send its cod 10,000 miles across the ocean shipped to China, where it will be filleted and then returned for less than the cost of doing it themselves.

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