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Merchant Fleet

The Merchant Fleet

Merchant ShipsOver 90% of world trade travels by sea. The international merchant fleet employs some 1,250,000 seafarers at sea. A further 250,000 are estimated to be on shore, in training, on leave or looking for work. It is believed that more than 60% of seafarers come from a Catholic Christian background. Modern ships have between 16-25 crew, often with four or more nationalities on board. English would be the common language, yet for most this would be their second or third language.

Cargo ships

Despite developments in road and air transport, it is still easier to transport heavy or large cargoes by coastal or long distance ships. Demand for cargo ships is increasing with the expansion of world trade. Minerals such as coal, iron, bauxite, copper and chrome are loaded into ships by conveyor belts. Dry cargoes such as cereals, sugar, fertilisers, and fodder for livestock are stored silos in ports before being transferred to the holds of ships.

Containers

Container ships carry their cargo in metal boxes, 20 and 40 foot in length. Some ship may carrier as many as 6,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent (TEU) containers. New ships coming on line carrier in excess of 10,000 TEU's. These boxes can be loaded and unloaded very rapidly by portside cranes with as many as twelve cranes working on a ship moving a container every 2 minutes. Container ships can be in and out of port in a matter for hours. This is highly advantageous for shipping companies anxious to minimise what they pay in port dues. For the hardworking seafarer it means even less possibility of spending time ashore. This type of shipping has grown steadily in the last 30 years.

Tankers

Oil tankers may carry hundreds of tons of crude oil. Pipelines carry oil to coastal terminals where it is loaded into the tankers and transported to depots or refineries in consumer countries. This is a highly specialised and dangerous occupation.

Voyagers on the sea in ships, plying their trade on the great ocean, have seen the works of Yahweh, his wonders in the deep . . . (Ps 107: 23)

 

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