Most of us, especially if we don’t live near a port, think little about ships even though they are foundational to our way of life. There are approximately 100,000 working ships at sea, carrying 90 percent of world trade. Right now the clothes you are wearing, the coffee or mobile device in your hand, some of the food you are digesting…it likely spent time on a ship, traveling hundreds or thousands of miles before becoming part of your life.
Below are ten photos of ships around the world, followed by a book recommendation for those who would like to read more:
A ship bound for the Black Sea moves through the Bosphorus Strait, which separates Europe and Asia and is viewed here from the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. On the right (European side) is Rumelihisarı, or Rumelian Castle, a fortress built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II between 1451 and 1452, before he conquered Constantinople.
The Portland Express, a container ship that is part of the Hapag-Lloyd AG fleet, sails at dawn out of the port of Le Havre, France. Hapag-Lloyd AG was formed in 1970 through the merger of two older companies: Hapag (1847) and North German Lloyd (1856).
The sun sets behind ships anchored in the Mediterranean in Tartus, Syria. In addition to being a commercial shipping port, the Russian navy leases a base in Tartus.
People stand on the viewing platform at the Miraflores Locks, one of three series of locks that ships enter and exit when transiting the Panama Canal. The ship in this photo is the MSC Carina. MSC stands for Mediterranean Shipping Company.
Beyond the neon glow of the Seattle’s Best Coffee cup and Pike Place Market, a container ship owned by the South Korean conglomerate Hanjin departs Seattle at sunset. Not a bad city, and not a bad view from which to enjoy a cup of coffee.
Several ships anchor at sea while waiting to enter port in Los Angeles County, California. The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are the busiest container ports in the United States, and shipping is a major contributor to the region’s air pollution. Ships, for example, are the largest source of sulphur dioxide emissions in the city. Recent regulations hope to reduce ship emissions by 40 tons each day.
Two container ships anchor off the coast of Malaga, Spain. On the left is the Maersk Laberinto, built in 2012 with a gross tonnage of 89,505. On the right is the Sven, built in 1996 with a gross tonnage of 6,362. The Maersk ship looks peaceful here, but earlier in 2014 it was involved in a small accident in the German port of Bremerhaven, causing several million euros worth of damage at the dock.
Maersk, by the way, is the world’s largest container shipping company, and if you were to put its containers end-to-end the line would be 11,000 miles long. It was for Maersk that Captain Richard Phillips worked when he, his crew, and ship, the Maersk Alabama, were hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. Later this event was made into a movie starring Tom Hanks (click here to see the trailer for Captain Phillips).
The Rosella, a ferry operated by Viking Line, departs the port of Mariehamn in the Åland Islands, an autonomous archipelago in Finland. Viking Line plies the Baltic Sea, calling in the ports of Tallinn, Helsinki, Turku, Mariehamn, Stockholm, Kapellskär, and Långnäs.
The Leyden, a bulk carrier ship, anchors in Havana, Cuba. This picture was taken from the district of Regla, looking toward Habana Vieja, which is behind the ship.
A NYK Line ship named the Auriga Leader sails in the Mediterranean Sea off the mountainous coast of Morocco. The NYK Line, founded in Japan in 1885, is one of the oldest shipping companies in the world. The Auriga Leader carries cars.
Now for the book recommendation.
In 2013, British journalist Rose George published Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate. I’ve only read excerpts but would like to read more; it’s good, as are the reviews, such as this one in the New York Times. She also has an 11-minute TED Talk:
Finally, if interested in finding the current of location of a particular ship, here’s one link to do that: https://www.vesselfinder.com.