When you buy something online or from a catalog, the excitement of getting something new is often dampened by the added cost of shipping and handling. The cost of delivering your item from warehouse to your door can sometimes cost as much as the item itself! This is because many things are not actually “shipped” to your house, they are delivered via truck or plane. Cargo shipping (via boat) is one of the most cost-effective ways to get products from the manufacturer to the distributor.
The shipping industry carries 90% of the world’s trade, and employs 1.5 million people. With such a large impact, there must be an emphasis on safety. Shipping was one of the first industries to adopt international safety standards. Cargo and passenger ships must follow strict industry standards with regards to lifeboats, fire prevention, spare part supply, and general maintenance. With a consistent supply of spare parts of cargo vessels located on the ship, full repair services can often be carried out at sea.
Of course, not every safety hazard is internal. Modern shipping vessels must be on the lookout for pirates. In 2012, the rate of pirate attacks was higher than the rate of violent crime in South Africa, which has the highest crime rate in the world.
Cargo vessels are enormous. The COSCO Guangzhou is as long as the Empire State Building is tall, measuring 1,150 feet. A large cargo vessel engine is 1,000 times as powerful as an average car. (Imagine the spare part supply to keep that running!) A large container ship will travel an equivalent distance as ten round trips to the moon during its lifetime. In spite of their enormous size, cargo vessels are often manned by small crews of only 13 to 24 people, who must know the layouts and parts of vessels quite thoroughly.
So the next time you must pay an exorbitant shipping fee, remember that it is not actually the shipping industry’s fault, and maybe consider taking advantage of free shipping to your local store.