Shipping is a global industry that has influenced our society since ancient times... but that most people give little thought to. It hardly seems fair to take it for granted, though, given the indispensable role it plays in our lives.
Shipping is huge. It is global. It is essential. It is… green? (Maybe.) Herewith, a compilation of facts about the industry.
1. It’s enduring
Shipping is one of the oldest industries in the world. It began thousands of years ago with seafarers trading simple items from various ports of call when they crossed paths. Today, it remains the leading form of transportation for all manner of goods.
2. The biggest ships are BIG
The largest container ships are 400 metres long and can carry up to 20,000 containers. There are nearly 100 ships of this size and, wanting to take advantage of economies of scale, shippers are continually seeking to upsize even further.
3. It’s ever-present
90% of the world’s commodities are carried on ships. And several million containers are traveling across the oceans at any given time.
4. It’s plentiful
There are approximately 55,000 merchant ships – tankers, passenger ships, container ships, fishing vessels, bulk carriers and general cargo ships – plying the seas.
5. It’s a major employer
About 1.5 million people are employed by the shipping industry. Workers from the Philippines account for one third of them. Only 2% are female.
6. It’s economical
It’s thanks to container shipping that you can buy $5 t-shirts at the mall. Container ships are the most efficient way to move goods, any way you slice it.
7. It takes a lot of fuel
A large cargo ship uses 150-250 tons of fuel per day, requiring as much fuel per kilometre as 3,770 smart cars. In fact, the shipping industry is so big that, if added to the list of the world's most polluting countries, it would come in sixth.