The ship is the best lifeboat
January 31, 2015 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Great post -- interested to follow along.

For those who enjoy transportation/shipping photos, a colleague of mine drives ships up and down the 52-mile Houston Ship Channel as a harbor pilot - some great photos, and a video.

Flickr Page
posted by Seeba at 2:45 PM on January 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

"One mentioned a friend who had to abandon the Maersk Miami after the engine room caught fire, the deck so hot that safety boots were melting while running to the lifeboat." Yikes.

Seeba, thanks for those photos. Good stuff.

tmotat, another great post. Thank you.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:55 PM on January 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

aw man thanks for this! I live in a town with a (hugenormous) port, and I pass the boxes and dinosaurs* on my way to work every morning. I've always loved how they look-but getting a picture is a definite no-no, since my town is also heavy military, and they frown on taking pictures at any of the docks.

*what I call the large cranes that you can see in the main link. They're pretty at night.
posted by FirstMateKate at 3:04 PM on January 31, 2015

oh! and I meant to add- of all the boxes, I think Safmarine has the prettiest logo (though Maersk's 7 pointed star is nice and reminds me of my other home, chicago)
posted by FirstMateKate at 3:06 PM on January 31, 2015

Very cool. Thanks for posting.
posted by veggieboy at 3:11 PM on January 31, 2015

Thanks for posting. Fascinating stuff.
posted by Miko at 3:28 PM on January 31, 2015

I pass by those things too on the way to work but to me they're giant dogs, or giraffes in their extended form.
posted by bleep at 3:34 PM on January 31, 2015

" It's trees and greenery that folks mention the most."
posted by Miko at 3:35 PM on January 31, 2015

Facinating stuff. Also somehow romantic.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:00 PM on January 31, 2015

I love this stuff.

{Edit to add} Looking for a Ship by John McPhee is a great book by the great McPhee about merchant shipping.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:41 PM on January 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Found this oddly mesmerizing video from Maersk about shipboard life. No narration, no music. Long shots of the bridge, engine room, mess, sweeping the decks, etc.
posted by honestcoyote at 7:11 PM on January 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Should have read up on How to Avoid Huge Ships - then all this could have been avoided.
posted by RedOrGreen at 7:28 PM on January 31, 2015

O h m y g o s h that video is so cool but also so boring. How does it have 1.2 million views
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:31 PM on January 31, 2015

I pass by those things too on the way to work but to me they're giant dogs, or giraffes in their extended form.

Apparently the ones in Oakland served as George Lucas' inspiration for the AT-ATs in Star Wars.
posted by acb at 7:36 PM on January 31, 2015

The introduction mentions Rose George's Ninety Percent Of Everything; I've been meaning to read that at some point. Has anyone here read it?
posted by acb at 7:38 PM on January 31, 2015

A couple of other things worth mentioning for maritime geeks: artist/filmmaker Peter Hutton is a merchant mariner who makes long-form videos of his sea trips. His At Sea is a monumental, atmospheric work that follows the ships from their building, through their career, through their destruction at shipbreakers' yards in Bangladesh.

Seaspray and Whisky is a hilarious book about exactly why shipping companies moved to sealed containers and ro-ros as opposed to break-bulk cargo. Normal Freeman was a newly minted radio officer assigned to a cargo ship in the 1960s that was given a load of whisky to carry. Discipline was bad, and the crew gradually...made their way into the cargo. Hilarity and disaster ensue. Highly recommended - a great vacation read.
posted by Miko at 7:54 PM on January 31, 2015 [5 favorites]

Awesome video, Potomac Avenue. The Box is an excellent book on this topic.
Malcolm McLean's fundamental insight, commonplace today but quite radical in the 1950's, was that the shipping industry's business was moving cargo, not sailing ships. That insight led to a concept of containerization quite different from anything that had come before. McLean understood that reducing the cost of shipping required not just a metal box but an entire new way of handling freight. Every part of the system - ports, ships, cranes, storage facilities, trucks, trains, and the operations of the shippers themselves - would have to change. In that understanding, he was years ahead of almost everyone else in the transportation industry.
posted by migurski at 8:03 PM on January 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Container shipping is fascinating - thanks for the links.

acb, I've read Ninety Percent of Everything. It's a good read about international shipping, the history, the ports, the shady legalities, the pirates, the work, etc.

A friend of mine is on a container ship right now, doing an ethnography - and blogging. Read up on her trip here.
posted by entropone at 7:16 AM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm fascinated by this stuff. Here's a good piece from last year on taking a container ship from China to the US.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:35 AM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Relevant thing in the news today.
posted by Miko at 8:23 AM on February 1, 2015

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