Maritime Transportation

The importance of shipping

The first water transport was probably nothing more than a log used to cross a stream. That journey may have taken place during the Ice Age or much earlier when our ancestral hominids spread from Africa. During the historic period dating back to 5,000 BC, sails were already in use, the first illustrations of sailing ships are from Egypt, and seafarers began to venture into the sea. Some of them went in search of new lands and different peoples with whom they could trade. At first they must have kept to the coastline, moving along it slowly and fearfully, for by then they would have learnt that the sea was dangerous and capricious and can turn from calm to storm within a few hours. According to one story, in 609 BC a Phoenician ship left Suez, intending to keep the coast to starboard, and four years later arrived back in Egypt, having sailed right round Africa. But eventually curiosity triumphed over timidity and at some point seafarers set out for the horizon and kept going until, the familiar coast had disappeared.

Shipping in the 21st century

It is generally accepted that more than 90 per cent of global trade is carried by sea. Throughout the last century the shipping industry has seen a general trend of increases in total trade volume. Increasing industrialization and the liberalization of national economies have fuelled free trade and a growing demand for consumer products. Advances in technology have also made shipping an increasingly efficient and swift method of transport. World seaborne trade figures i.e. the amount of goods actually loaded aboard ships have increased considerably since the 70's and in 2008, reached 8.2 billion tons of goods loaded.