Anybody else find that stat rather astonishing? Over 200 ships (200m+) lost at sea in the last 20 years?
Not given the total number of ships, their condition, the generally low state of seamanship and safety compliance and the truly vast amount of global trade that goes on.
If you are willing to pay for it, you can get bananas, strawberries and even kiwifruit in most places, 12 months a year.
Of course, they don't grow 12 months a year. They grow at different times and different places.
It's the same with bulk goods. There are no "seasons" in shipping, despite the facts that taking a ship through certain waters at certain times is much more problematic than at other points. Hence...glub, blub...fill out the insurance form, send a grand to the widows, and load up another container ship.
When history looks back on this time, and it will, the genius of the age will not be found in the computer, the Internet or digital, HD TV, but in the decades-long, nearly seamless development of global, ship-borne trade. It started with the Allied convoys of the Second World War, and has developed into thousands of ships, tankers and freighters and container ships, daily being run on schedules like 600-1,000 foot trucks.
This is an astounding feat of organization and industrial might that is largely ignored while we all gasp and grin at our latest Blackberries. Well, Blackberries are assembled in Canada, but I imagine much of the guts of them are from China, and that the raw materials for them are delivered...by ship...from 20 different countries.
Until I can order a pizza on the moon, international shipping will retain my respect.