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3 min read  | Supply Chain

This Holiday Season's Maritime Reading Suggestions

Patrik Berglund  | December 23, 2016

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It’s been an intense 2016. From the summer's historic box container rate lows to the sudden Hanjin collapse to the far higher rates of today – who knew hauling containers could be so interesting? But with slow steaming now a common practice, we thought – what a perfect time to catch up on one’s reading? So we reached back to our good friend and author Prof Andrew Lubin for some ideas, and here’s what he suggested.

1-The Box, by Marc Levinson. (2nd ed, 2016, Princeton University Press)

 

The history of the shipping container and how it changed the world of shipping while contributing to globalization and economic growth. It’s the story of how trucker Malcom McLean visualizing how cargo could be shipped more efficiently, and then realizing he needed a specialized vessel to carry the containers, dedicated cranes for loading/unloading, a seaworthy container, as well as deal with some very obstinate longshoreman unions.  This is a very readable book that describes how the lowly 20 / 40’ container enabled world trade to boom.

 

2- Lloyds Maritime Atlas of World Ports and Shipping Places (29th Ed, 2016, Lloyds of London Press)

 

First published in 1951, this is a comprehensive listing of the world's ports and places. This edition updates port names and locations, a world map showing where MARPOL, PSSA, and SECA regulations are in force, piracy hotspots and routes to avoid, weather hazards and load line data, and a world map of vaccinations needed against major disease. With 70+ color world, ocean, and regional maps, and detailed latitude / longitude of 8,000+ ports and places, what better book to either best safely skipper your vessel or grab a loved one and plan an exotic holiday!

 

3-The Fleet at Flood Tide, by James D. Hornfischer (2016, Bantam Books)

 

While most maritime officers have long-ago read of Battle of Midway, Leyte Gulf, and the other naval battles between the American and Japanese, how many know of the logistics tale that made the American victory possible? From 16” shells to steel plate to hundreds of thousands of tons of fuel oil, it all had to be transported from the USWC to island depots that the US Marines had often just cleared of Japanese troops. “Just-in Time” logistics has an entirely new meaning when morphine, food, fuel, and ammunition are needed to support America's methodical advance to Tokyo Bay.

 

4 – Ports & Terminal Guide, 2012 (World Shipping Encyclopedia)

 

The complete guide to 9,800+ world ports and terminals. Includes such necessary data as tanker berth details, electronic time & distance tables, and an electronic database of 58,000+ vessels. The 6,000+ pages include 23,000 port service providers such as stevedores, agents, bunker suppliers, chandlers, tow, repair facilities and 6,000 port maps.

 

5 – An Extraordinary Time, Marc Levinson (2016, Princeton University Press)

 

Since container volumes have slumped drastically, it’s worth reading why, and whether or not they are expected to recover. Author Marc Levinson (yes, from  The Box!) takes the reader from the post-WW2 golden years when good-paying jobs were plentiful, and trade increased with one’s living standards. Until 1973…then it all came to an end after the first oil shock.  The world economy slumped badly, reverting to the pre-Depression years of erratic growth due to Wall Street chicanery growth that suddenly collapsed – with the obvious comparisons to the 1987- 2000-2008 crashes. Beginning with the first oil price shock of 1973, politicians have promised economic security and robust growth based on deregulation, privatization, lower tax rates, and smaller government, yet the net result is a reduced safety net, a widening chasm between the  ultra-rich1% and the rest of the world. As levels of economic and political uncertainty, and extremism make the US and EU news daily, maybe building more Mega’s might not be a good idea?

These look to be some most interesting suggestions, and all of us at Xeneta wish you the Happiest of Holidays and a prosperous New Year!

 

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