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Symbeline's avatar

What do you know about cargo ships?

Asked by Symbeline (29535 points ) July 21st, 2010

Or freighters, or whichever. I spent all day in the port in MontrĂ©al yesterday and I saw these two HUGE boats that aren’t in use right now, so we got a real good look at them, they were just docked there. I mean seriously I never saw any boat that damn humongous. I think they’re boats for transporting large cargo around, and there was all this equipment all over both, they looked like a floating factories. One guy that was there said that one of the boats had a hydrolic crank for hauling things?
I’m asking because I’m telling a friend about them but I don’t really know what kind of boats these were, and she wants to know what they looked like beyond what I’m describing. I took pics with my cell but they turned out really bad and all you can see is a bunch of metal and sun glare.
So, does anyone here know anything about cargo ships? What do my boats sound like, and where can I go online to find pictures of similar boats?

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14 Answers

jerv's avatar

I know aircraft carriers better than I would like to and have moored alongside a few different types of cargo ships in my day.

Container ships generally don’t have much gong on topside except for stacked cargo containers and some cranes whereas tankers have shitloads of plumbing all over the place and look a bit more like a factory.

However, this really is a case where a picture is worth a thousand words.

Symbeline's avatar

Are tankers really long? These ones were. In fact I’m not sure how these can even turn lol.

jerv's avatar

Yes, they can be almost a quarter of a mile long.

They have more than one propeller (or “screws”) and usually also have multiple rudders, but tankers generally don’t turn very sharply anyways. Any time they need to navigate tight spots, they have tugs to help them out. Aircraft carriers have four screws and two rudders, and if the rudders go out, they can turn a little lie a bulldozer by speeding up the screw(s) on one side while slowing down the screw(s) on the other.

Needless to say, the hulls are pretty damn strong; they have to be. Carriers have to be even tougher as they are warships, but trust me when I say that they have a lot of framework under that skin, and that“skin” is steel a few inches thick. Cargo ships are not quite as tough, but they still have quite a bit of metal to them.

As for speed, cargo ships don’t need much since they are more worried about fuel economy (and therefore fuel costs associated with shipping) than a Navy ship. If you want to see something move deceptively fast, look at a nuclear carrier. Over 1,000 feet long, between 70,000 and 100,000 tons, and I can say for a fact that the official figure of 35+ knots is a bit understated. Sure, 35 knots (~40 MPH) may not seem fast, but look at the size of them and think how much power it takes to get something that big moving that fast through water.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_ship
Go down to the bottom of the page and look at the various categories they have linked there. Most articles should have representative pictures.

Symbeline's avatar

@jerv I just looked up nuclear ships, and yeah these dwarf my ships by like…a hell of a lot. Thanks for the info. Learning stuff kicks ass. :)

jerv's avatar

@Symbeline There are some cargo ships and tankers that are bigger than even a “supercarrier” like the one I was stationed on; often no longer, but a bit wider and considerably heavier. Of course, they also have a bit less going on in the engine room as well, plus a far smaller crew. Hell, I think that the entire crew of one of those things is often smaller than just the number of electricians (about 130, including the Interior Communications guys) on a carrier!

Symbeline's avatar

What’s it like working on one of those?

JLeslie's avatar

Sometimes you can become a passenger on some cargo ships and travel that way. It is a very slow trip, Someone on fluther was once telling me about it. His parents did it for a year or something? I can’t remember who it was. I had mentioned that I want to take one of those 60 or 90 day cruises.

jaytkay's avatar

Container ships are the common cargo ships. One ship can carry thousands of containers, up to 7,000.

Loaded container ship
Empy container ship

Tankers, as @jerv mentioned, can look more like a sea-going factory
Tanker
Tanker

kelly's avatar

At Port of Montreal, you could have seen a “laker” or an ocean vessel, as the St. Lawrence River is deep enough for the ocean vessels.
Laker are limited in length, and thereby in tonnage (or max cargo weight) they can carry by the lengths of the locks upriver from Montreal. I think the first of these is going west out of Lake Ontario up the escarpment (cliff) over which Niagra Falls is formed to get to the much higher Lake Erie. Many lakers have cranes and derricks on their deck to self load and unload cargo onto a port’s docks. Their are a few laker tankers and they too have lots of pipes and derricks on their decks to self extend pipes for loading and unloading. On both of these the decks are very busy looking. Laker cargo ships are like the Edmond Fitzgerald ore carrier that went down in Lake Superior with all hands and story of Gordon Lightfoot’s haunting ballad. Ocean vessels are much bigger with one of the largest being the Panamex size that will go through the Panama Canal with about five foot to spare on each end of the lock. No there are Super Tankers and Cargo ships that are too big for the Panama Canal so they only can sail either in the Atlantic or Pacific. Few will risk going around the Capes of Africa or South America because their length make them vulnerable to splitting open if the bow is on one wave crest and the stern is on another; but that can also happen with any large ship; witness the Edmond Fitzgerald disaster. If you see a ship again that is of interest, get its name, as each ship is supposed to have a unique name. Also ships almost always have their “home” port (or at least their port of registry) on the hull near the name. you may be able to get info by Googling the name and port of registry. If you have a chance, go aboard any large ship – it is a different world.

Symbeline's avatar

Oh crap I never thought about the name…it was the something Toronto, but now I don’t remember. I didn’t catch the name for the second.
And yeah I’d love to go on board, but I’m pretty sure we weren’t allowed. :/

@jaytkay The second picture for tankers looked a little like mine, only it seems to be a way older model.
Thanks for your help everyone.

jaytkay's avatar

This might help. I just found it via boatnerd.com (whch is exactly what it sounds like).

Port of Montreal – Ships in Port
Today | Yesterday | 2 days ago | 3 days ago
http://www.port-montreal.com/site/5_0/5_1.jsp?map=action=list&type=etd&day=2&order=1&lang=en

Tomfafa's avatar

I found myself in tierra del fuego… the captain of a freighter agreed to take me, my bike and my underwear to madeira for about $80! Nice cabin. So Symbeline… you like long, powerful… things? Don’t worry… you’re not alone.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Symbeline If they were lakers, the pilot house would be near the bow (front). Seagoing freighters usually have it near the stern (back).

MV Toronto Express, ex CP Venture, Hapag-Lloyd, 55,700 tons, tanker

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