This is the Empire State Building. With 102 floors, it’s one of the tallest buildings in the US. But it’s 4 floors shorter than the MSC Oscar. Which isn’t a building, but a boat The largest container ship in the world. Launched in January 2015, the MSC Oscar is nearly the size of four football fields laid endtoend. It has a draft of 16 meters, which means that if you were to stand at the bottom of the ship, you’d be 5 stories underwater. It’s one of 5000 container ships crossing the world’s oceans, carrying the vast majority.
Of products you buy and the parts those products were made from. These ships are the engine of the global economy, but 60 years ago, they didn’t even exist. How did all this happen For hundreds of years, shipping was a bit of a nightmare. Goods had to be unloaded into storage at ports, then individually packed onto ships and unpacked afterwards. This process was painfully slow and expensive, and it left items vulnerable to damage and theft. In 1956, Malcom McLean, an American trucking executive, proved that you could save time.
And money by loading truck containers directly onto ships. On the other side they’d be put back onto trucks or trains, and reach their destination without ever being opened. McLean later got the government on board by using containerized service to help the military provide supplies for the Vietnam War. Some of the more notable innovations in solving the logistical problems in Vietnam have been in the field of containerization After the industry recognized how efficient container shipping was, the use of container ships exploded. International standardization was the key. The unit of measurement is TEU, or twentyfoot.
Meet the enormous boats that carry your stuff
Equivalent. Most containers used today are twice as long. Shippers quickly realized that the larger the boat, the cheaper the shipping price per container. So the size of the largest ships has grown exponentially. In 1999, a shipping executive predicted an eventual ceiling of 12,000 TEU. But the MSC Oscar has a capacity of over 19,000. To accommodate these huge ships, ports have been rebuilt, with vast yards to store the containers and huge cranes to load and unload them simultaneously, in a specific order. Today’s biggest ships are so huge that they can’t actually fit through the Panama canal.
Or dock at any American port. They’re used mostly for shipping between Europe and Asia. It’s hard to overstate how much all this has transformed the world economy. After containerization, global trade in merchandise soared while insurance costs and inventories decreased. Jobs at ports and in factories in the U.S. dropped while consumers gained access to a greater variety of products at a lower price. As a result, products we buy can be made with parts from several different countries, by people on the other side of the world. And it’s hard to imagine any of this happening without someone first deciding to put the.