10 interesting maritime facts

Stats and trivia from a fascinating industry

As one of the world’s oldest industries, maritime is steeped in history and tradition. Thousands of years after it began, shipping remains a crucial component in global trade and transportation. Here’s a collection of ten interesting facts about the modern maritime industry.

1. Shipping drives the world’s economy

Despite major advancements in other forms of transportation, a surprising 90% of all goods are transported by ship. People all around the world are hugely reliant on imports and exports via shipping.

2. Shipping is safe

Because of its inherently global nature, shipping was one of the first industries to adopt widely implemented international safety standards. And to this day, it is still more heavily regulated than most other industries—with agencies such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) setting standards for safer, more environmentally friendly shipping.

3. Ocean freight is surprisingly cheap…

Thanks to containerization, it is very cost-effective to transport huge volumes of goods by sea. For example, the average costs to ship a bicycle and a can of soda are only $10 and $0.01 respectively.

4. … despite the enormous cost of shipbuilding

Some of the world’s largest container ships cost over $200 million to construct. But even that seems small compared to the cost of luxury cruise ships, which can be as high as $1.4 billion.

5. Container ships are even more powerful than you might think…

Such high construction costs make sense when you consider the power needed to propel vessels. Engines on container ships can exceed 100,000hp in power—roughly 1,000 times more than an average car.

6. … and have even bigger capacities

The world’s largest container ships can carry a staggering amount of goods. Carrying over 21,000 TEU, modern container ships can hold up to 745 million bananas. To put that into perspective, that’s roughly one banana for every person in Europe and North America.

7. Ships cover astronomical distances

On average, a container ship travels a distance equivalent to 75% of the way to the moon and back in a single year.

8. Panama is the top flag state

According to recent figures from Lloyd’s List Intelligence, Panama still has the world’s biggest registry of vessels. The Marshall Islands and Liberia follow in second and third respectively.

9. Shipping has influenced the English language

Although many people may not realize it, there are many maritime expressions that have found their way into everyday language. Sayings such as “learning the ropes”, “at close quarters”, and “high and dry” all have nautical origins.

10. World Maritime Day

Since 1978, the IMO has organized World Maritime Day. This is celebrated with a series of events and activities, and looks ahead at the future of the industry. This year, World Maritime Day will take place on September 28—how will you mark the occasion?

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