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Prologue   The stage is 310.106 million ㎢. Sleepless work to go around the ocean.


Prologue   The stage is 310.106 million ㎢. Sleepless work to go around the ocean.


The stage is 310.106 million ㎢. Sleepless work to go around the ocean.

The total area of the earth is about 0.51010 billion square kilometers, of which about 70% are covered with an endlessly expanding ocean. In modern times, people and goods actively enter and exit from this large oceanfront stage, bringing about prosperity in this global era.

It can be said that the appearance of large vessels loaded with a large variety of colorful containers in large quantities is a symbol of the shipping business that supports international economic activities through trade.  A huge number of vessels travel every day precisely on their ocean routes like the blood permeating the human bod. Thus, they are taking responsibilities for international logistics demand.

It is the role of the merchant ship to transport goods to every corner of the earth. Transported goods cover all kinds of things such as mineral resources to industrial products and foodstuffs. their involvement is diverse and very deep in enabling our existence and supporting industries, from the essentials of our living to the industrial products that are processed and exported, as an existence supporting living and industries,

*Ships traveling the world over and supporting maritime logistics in this global era.

For an island country surrounded by the ocean like Japan in particular, merchant ships that exchange goods with countries all over the world can be said to be lifelines. Let’s briefly review the world of the industry through recent cases and concrete points of view.

    1. The more you know about the shipping industry, the more interesting it gets.

     Container ships boasting of their extraordinary sizes

A horizontally long huge building that has appeared on the sea is a way of describing a colossal container ship.

It is a container ship that is floating in the sea. It is a main player of modern sea transport. It is also a main cast in this book.

The sight of the many containers stacked on the deck looks like  a single building. Standing on the quay, many people who saw a container ship for the first time will unconsciously utter words such as “gigantic” or “huge”.

The largest container ship in the world that is in service as of July 2017 is about 20,000 TEU. “TEU” stands for Twenty Feet Equivalent Unit, which is a unit converted into 20 feet container. It is used to indicate the size of the container ship and the size of the port. The 20 foot container is 20 feet long (about 6 m) long and 8 foot wide (about 2.4 m) wide. Approximately 14 m² in terms of area. Assuming that this is 20,000 pieces, it is as simple as 280,000 square meters. This means that you can secure as much space as you can load cargo on one ship.

Currently, the tallest building in Japan is Osaka’s Abenoharukasu (Tower Hall: height 300 m). The total floor area is about 212,000 square meters. A container space of 20,000 TEU can have more space than this. If you do not know Abenoharukasu please try to imagine a skyscraper with 60 floors. Suppose all floors from the basement to the top floor are filled with cargo. The very large amount of cargo will fit on just one ship.

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Let’s compare with another example. The site area of the Tsukiji market in Tokyo is about 230,000 m2. Even the cargo that fills the entire floor of this facility will be completely packed into one ship. In addition, the area of Tokyo Dome, which is often used as  comparison measurement for building sizes, is about 47,000 square meters. The aforementioned container ship can provide about six times more the space. This is a hypothetical case where the total floor area of the container is loaded to the maximum load number on a container ship of 20,000 TEU. In fact, various conditions are involved, so we can not simply compare the space between the container ship and the building. Nevertheless, You could imagine how huge container ships are.

Container ships are getting more and more gigantic

Business environment is getting multinationalized

As a matter of fact, not many people have actually seen a gigantic contain ship at a near distance, even though they know there are huge container ships. There are few opportunities for the general public to know about the container ship itself and information on how to load it and its sailing route. However, there are cases where information on container ships ges widely reported. The news of the container ship’s accident is a representative example.

In the waters off the Izu peninsula early June 2017, an accident occurred when a container ship and the Aegis destroyer of the US Navy collided. And it resulted in the painful situation where the lives of the seven crew members of the Aegis ship were lost. Every day, this crash accident of the sea was reported in the press. Also, in the news, because we got a detailed report on the cause and background of the accident, many people got knowledge about the circumstances of the shipping industry, which was a rare opportunity to have access  to marine transport industry. Learning lessens from this disastrous event and understanding the circumstances of the accident,  I would like to continue to talk about various aspects of the work involved in maritime transport and furthermore the state of the industry itself.

The two vessels were involved in this accident. One was a container ship, ACX crystal (ACX CRYSTAL) and the US Navy’s Aegis destroyer Fitzgerald (FITZGERALD). Container ship was sailing from Nagoya port to Tokyo port, the area off the Izu peninsula on the way is known as a crowded zone of huge container ships and multinational ships. This route is the shortest route connecting the Ise Bay area and Tokyo Bay, which is “the tough sea transportation area.” The number of traffic vessels per day reaches 400 ships.

Also on the coast of Japan including the offing of the Izu Peninsula, averaged 5000 ships per day are passing, counting even only those vessels equipped with AIS (Automatic Ship Identification System).

AIS is a device that constantly transmits the ships operation information. Under domestic law (ship equipment provision Article 146-29) under the Maritime Life Safety Treaty (SOLAS Convention), it is mandatory to install that device for all passenger ships engaged in international voyages and all ships above gross 300t and for all vessels, whchi are not engaged in international voyage, above gross 500t. Ships other than merchant ships are included in these 5,000 vessels. I think it is a good thing to knowthat a huge number of vessels are coming and going back and forth near Japan’s ports.

Images of the container ship was introduced time and again in the accident report on TV. Its sense of presence was indeed overwhelming. The container ship ACX Crystal reaches a total length of 222.6 m and a total gross tonnage of 29060t. On the other hand, the Aegis warship is 144 meters in length and 8,315 tons in gross tonnage. The Aegis warship was never too small. The fact was that the container ships were simply too huge.

Furthermore,  surprising is the fact that this particular container ship is not necessarily too large for this kind of container ship. Today, container ships of full length 400 m class are also in existence. The biggest container ship in the world I introduced earlier is exactly this size. An unimaginably huge container ships are now playing active roles on a daily basis not only in Japan’s ocean but also everywhere in the world.

Moreover, when you move your eyes onto the deck of a container ship, you can see how many stages of containers are piled up. The loaded containers are really colorful. Their colors are red, blue and green. Container standards are basically unified, which is an important rule for efficiently transporting various loads. This will be touched upon in detail in Chapter 4.

*A jumbo cargo vessel with containers piled up on the deck is going over the ocean throughout the world

Further, when the name of the container ship of the ACX Crystal was reported, the information “Philippine flag of ship” was also informed.

Although this container ship was being operated by a major shipping company in Japan, the flag of the ship was Philippines. All 20 crew members were Filipino citizens. Currently, many of the shipping companies responsible for shipping in Japan are dominated by foreign flagships, which shows the multinational circumstances in the marine transportation. Of the Japanese merchant fleet, which is responsible for international shipping (merchant ship operated by the international shipping company operating in Japan), the foreign fleet accounts for more than 90%, collaboration beyond national boundaries can be regarded as a big characteristic of the shipping industry in Japan. I will further touch on this point in a later chapter.