PONYNJ: Ten Things You Don’t Know About Shipping

Compiled by Port Authority Staff

When it comes to commercial shipping, history is being made across the New York/New Jersey region. From raising the Bayonne Bridge to accommodate larger ships to dredging the port harbor to 50 feet to allow adequate draft for the bigger ships coming to call on the East Coast, the local Port Authority ports are busier than ever.


New section of roadway being installed at the Bayonne Bridge. Photo by Mike Dombrowski

The world of shipping is reinventing itself. But before that reinvention is complete, here are 10 fascinating (and little-known) facts about the shipping industry, courtesy of the blog Humans at Sea. 

  • A container ship travels the equivalent of three-quarters of the way to the moon and back in one year during its regular travel across the oceans.
  • The largest ships can store 745 million bananas in nearly 15,000 containers – about one for every person in Europe and North America.
  • Worldwide, less than 10 percent of containers are actually inspected. U.S. ports normally inspect roughly 5 percent of the 17 million containers arriving at the border every year.
  • Shipping is cheap. So cheap, in fact, that rather than fillet its own fish, Scotland can send its cod 10,000 miles across the ocean to China to be filleted, and then sent back for less than the price of doing it themselves.
  • There are roughly 20 million containers crossing the world, in ships that have about 1,000 times more power than the family car.
  • The largest container ships can cost more than $200 million to build.
  • About two-thirds of ship crews in the world have no means of outside communication while they are on the open sea. Only about 1 in 10 will have freely available Internet.
  • It can be a dangerous career: every year, more than 2,000 sailors die at sea, and two ships are lost every day. In 2010, Somali pirates held 544 seafarers hostage.
  • Stack up the containers from a ship and it would reach nearly 7,500 Eiffel Towers; unload their cargo onto trucks and the traffic would stretch 60 miles.
  • It’s still a man’s world on the high seas: only 2 percent of seafarers are women.
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