From Breakbulk To The Container

The shipping container, the vessels that carry them and the land vehicles that carry them represent a revolution in the way cargo gets moved across the world. The full impact of that revolution is still being felt.  The one thing that is certain is, that like it or not the world is going to be more connected than it has ever been in history as getting stuff from point “A” to point “B” has never been cheaper. To understand the full impact of the revolution We need to start at the beginning.

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Living At Sea

This showed up in  my twitter timeline recently.

Now I don’t actually believe that the Maldives are being submerged by rising sea levels caused by global warming. Still the idea of repurposing old drilling platforms as seasteads is interesting.  They might interesting places to live.  Though living would be, by necessity, be confined in some ways. Larhe apartments and spaces are going to be rare, for instance.

Still there aren’t really any showstoppers. Huge ocean structure are already being fabricated for oil drilling and production.  People live on them for long periods of time.  It’s likely that offshore structures for various activities are going to get larger in the near future.

Not just oil and gas, but mining as well

New technologies are making possible to grow vegetables very efficiently.

People are also developing new ways to farm the ocean.


Who knows where it’s going to lead.  Even without the supposed AGW catastrophe seasteading might become no different than any other minerals town. It might even move like the town in Gargantia.

With advancing genetic and regeneration technologies they might even reinvent themselves to better suit the ocean environment, though I doubt that they would turn themselves into giant space squids.




Living at sea has some exciting potentials and the possibility of a new kind of living. Only though if we create the fertile ground that lets pioneering like this happen. Otherwise we risk the kind of world like the one  that Poul Anderson came up with in Orion Shall Rise.

Building The SS America

I was digging through my library for blogfodder and I came upon this book about ship fitting.


I was going to post about how ships were designed and built when I realized that in some ways the book was a building diary for the SS America, built at Newport News Shipbuilding just before WW2.

Taking the lines off the model


Starting the frames and plating.


Floor plating


Lower bulkheads



Second deck.


Main deck.


Adding bulkheads and superstructure



Almost complete.


Preparation for launch.





Fitting out.





And delivery to the owners.


A video on the ship’s timeline

Some links.

Fairly recent article from the Newport news Daily Press.

British Pathe news service on the launch

When The US Built Ships

The US has, by and large, given up on shipbuilding.  Which is sad because the rest of the world uses the techniques in this video.

Somehow the greatest generations didn’t seem to function with the same limitations that we have to live with.