Current trends in the global maritime transport sector

Authored by: Bruce Lambert

The Routledge Companion to Network Industries

Print publication date:  November  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138782822
eBook ISBN: 9781315768984
Adobe ISBN: 9781317668084


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For most people, international trade shapes their daily lives. As one example, in studying the ‘travels’ of a T-shirt in the global economy, Planet Money tracked harvested cotton on its course from Mississippi to Indonesia to become fabric, and then followed the fabric, which was shipped to either Bangladesh or Colombia to be printed, before finally returning to the US in the form of a finished T-shirt (National Public Radio, 2013). On any day, transportation patterns depend upon many similar supply chains, as markets demand more complicated parts and consumers more choice. Maritime transport is not necessarily one industry, but a variety of different ships, markets, owners, and cargos. First, there is bulk shipping, which normally carries a single commodity, such as grain, ores, or coal (dry bulk), or petroleum, crude, or other chemicals (liquid bulk). Another category is break-bulk shipping, which, as its name implies, is cargo placed directly in the hold of a ship. This was the traditional means of shipping general or loose cargo before the advent of containerized shipping. The final category is containerized shipping, which has transformed the maritime industry in ways that were unimaginable when Malcolm P. McLean put containers on the top deck of the Ideal X in 1956 (Levinson, 2008). Containerized shipping is just that: ships that are designed to carry eight feet and six inches high, eight-foot-wide, 40-foot-long containers, often referred to in 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) when describing vessel capacity as opposed to deadweight tonnage in the bulk markets.

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