17 Surprising Facts About the Worldwide Shipping Industry

maritime shipping Apr 16, 2022

The shipping industry may be one of the oldest in the world, but the global economy would not exist without shipping containers. Shipping is considered one of the most important industries there is, a surprising 90% of everything still comes and goes on a ship by sea.

Here are some surprising facts about the worldwide shipping industry.

1- 90% of the world’s goods transported by the international shipping industry.

2- Approximately 1.5 million people are employed in the maritime sector.

3 - Shipping is Safe - Shipping is still the safest form of commercial transport. As a matter of fact, it was one of the first industries to adopt widely implemented international safety standards (in the 19th century). Shipping safety is regulated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

4 - The largest container ships are 400 meters long and can carry up to 20,000 containers.

5 - In a year, a single large container ship can carry more than 200,000 container loads. The sizes and carrying capacities of individual vessels vary. Many container ships can carry up to 8,000 containers of finished goods and products at a time. Some car carrier ships can handle 7,600 cars at a time. It takes hundreds of freight planes, miles of wagons and a fleet of trucks to transport goods that can fit on a single large ship.

6 – There are approximately 55,000 merchant ships sailing the seas. The six merchant fleet ship types include: General cargo ships, Bulk carriers, Fishing vessels, Container ships, Cruise ships, Tankers.

7 - 97% of all shipping containers are built in China.

8 - A large cargo ship uses 150-250 tons of fuel per day and requires as much fuel as 3,770 smart cars per kilometre.

9 - A container ship engine has about 1,000 times more power than an average family car. But, large container ships only travel 26.5 miles per hour.

10 - In a year, an average container ship travels the equal of 75% of its voyage to and from the moon during its normal voyage across the ocean.

11 - About 33% of the world’s ship crews have no means of communication while at sea. Only 10% have any internet access.

12 - Ships are high-value assets (larger high-tech vessels can cost upwards of $200 million to build). And operating commercial vessels generates an estimated annual revenue of over half a trillion U.S. dollars in freight rates.

13 - The safety of maritime transport regulated by various United Nations agencies. The International Maritime Organization has developed a comprehensive framework of global maritime safety regulations that implemented worldwide.

14 - Maritime transport is the least damaging form of commercial transport. And contributes less to marine pollution from human activities compared to land-based industry.

15 - Shipping is Profitable - The shipping industry is simply massive. Though reporting standards and fluctuating currency values make it impossible to hone in on exact numbers, the International Chamber of Shipping estimates that marine shippers transported over 7.7 billion tons of cargo in 2008, generating roughly $380 billion in freight charges alone.

16 - Shipping is Affordable - In fact, it’s still one of the most affordable ways to transport cargo. For example, it’s cheaper for Scottish cod to be shipped to China (10,000 miles away) and filleted and returned to Scotland than it is to pay Scottish workers to do the same job. In another example, it’s cheaper to ship New Zealand tuna in Thailand and ship it back to New Zealand than it is to have the processing completed in New Zealand.

17 - Ships cover the oceans  - At least 20 million containers are currently travelling across the oceans at this moment in time.

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