Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Journeys on the Rivers and Oceans: Ship Transportation

Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Journeys on the Rivers and Oceans: Ship Transportation

Article excerpt

Recognized explorers from around the world (e.g., Columbus, Magellan, Drake, Cook, Tinne, Bass, etc.) used ships to sail to new territories. As new lands were discovered and settlements developed, ships were important in establishing trade routes to and from these new lands. Products needed for survival or produced in excess in the home land were brought and traded. Raw materials, foods, and consumer goods were brought back to the nation states upon the ships that bore their flags.

This was the start of maritime shipping and the establishment of trade routes throughout the world. As countries developed, so did their interests to discover new lands to expand their empires. There was a need for raw materials to fuel growing industrial empires. Many sailed to discover riches such as gold, precious stones, and silver or seek products that were wanted by industry and the populace (tea, cotton, etc.), while others set off just for the adventure.


Histories of countries cover explorers who set out to find new lands. Today it is not the explorers people recognize, but the impact that world trade has on individual economies. The developed world has to produce products that others want and find means to get these products to consumers around the world. Much has been reported about the impacts that China has upon economies. Due to its natural resources and lower wage demands by labor, many countries are having their consumer goods produced in China and transported to their marketplaces so that profits can be realized.

Since the earth's land masses are separated by water, shipping has become the most economical way to deliver products and natural resources. Water transportation has become the most economical way to transport large cargos that must go to countries around the world. With improved ship design, larger ships have been built to carry more cargos and passengers.

Ports and Waterways

Nature sculpted the earth. It is believed that the continents' land masses broke as the planet evolved; this is what is believed to have separated the continents. These images can be seen if one looks at a world map. It appears that Africa and South America were once connected, as shown by the silhouettes of the continents. It is also believed that rivers were formed as ice caps broke and moved toward the equator. The ice flows are believed to have dug deep in some areas, and our natural ports were formed.


Since nature had its impact and sculpted the land and its edges differently, some locations had natural inlets where ships could sail and dock close to land. Piers and docks were built into the water so cargoes could be loaded and unloaded. Not all ports had sufficient depth, so those with depth became the most popular destinations of ships. In the U.S., New York and Norfolk have deep water access on the east coast. Los Angeles, Seattle, and Oakland are major ports of the West Coast. In Germany, Wilhelmshaven is a deep water port, as is Rotterdam in The Netherlands. Rotterdam is Europe's largest port. Other major ports include Liverpool, England; Port of Townsville, Australia; Singapore; and Hong Kong and Shanghai in China.

Dredging is common in port areas to deepen the water's channel, since larger ships have drafts that go as deep as 40 to 50 feet (15 meters) when loaded. Special ships, called dredges, have been designed to keep the channels free of sand and silt. In areas where it would require too much time to sail around land masses, canals have been dug to connect water masses. Famous canals include the Suez and Panama. The Suez enables ships to go from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean without need to sail around Africa. The Panama Canal cuts the time that Pacific ships would need to go to the Atlantic Ocean. Plans have been finalized to redesign the Panama Canal to carry the mega ships that now sail the oceans. …

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