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Facts about cargo ships

Cargo ships are massive vessels that are largely responsible for importing and exporting most of the goods from around the world. Given how many products are presently made in China, cargo ships are essential to trade. They are a far more cost effective than air fare and thus an excellent way to get goods to consumers around the world while managing to keep the cost of the items at reasonable prices.

Cargo ships are huge but they usually only have a handful of crew members.
Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images

Cargo ships come from every country and they transport nearly everything imaginable from shoes to cars to clothes to furniture. Some cargo ships have even transported army vehicles like tanks! Almost every imported product on store shelves was once aboard a cargo ship. Despite the fact that these vessels are central to International trade, many people know little about them.

Below are a few interesting facts about cargo ships:

• Cargo ships regularly carry hundreds of metal containers that are packed with goods. These containers are so heavy that the ships come equipped with cranes that help the operators load and unload the cargo.

• Most cargo ships (and containers) are made out of welded steel. They usually are expected to last about 30 years before they need to be replaced.

• Cargo ships can sometimes take weeks (or even over a month) to reach a certain destination.

• Cargo ships are among the most likely kinds of ships to fall prey to modern day pirates. In poor countries especially pirates target the ships for the wealth of useful products they carry on board.

• Cargo ships are very much a 21st century reality but the practice of trading and carry goods via the sea dates back to the 1st millennium BC! These early “cargo ships” usually operated around the Mediterranean and carried items like copper, glass, ivory, jars, spices, gold and even statues.

• The containers on cargo ships are usually stacked on top of one another—sometimes as high as three to four! An average cargo ship can hold about 16,000 containers!

• Large ports, like New York Harbor, regularly house hundreds of cargo ships every single day.