Sunday, 26 June 2011

Hanjin Yantian

The Hanjin Yantian is 300m long and 42m wide, carrying about 6,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of cargo on our trip. This is a big ship and was among the biggest until MAERSK went and built its superships. We are told it is probably owned by some rich person from the South of Germany, it’s managed by NSB- the Niederelbische Schifffahrtgesellschaft Rederei and is chartered to Hanjin, a South Korean shipping company.

The captain is Russian, living in Lithuania and extremely tall, the rest of the European crew is made up of Germans and a Polish officer. Max sits at a different table to the rest of the Europeans at mealtimes and we are yet to discover whether this is because he’s not allowed to sit on the table with the chiefs or we’ve stolen his seat there. The rest of the crew are Filipinos including the cook, the steward, one of the officers, the oilers and the able seamen. We don’t yet know what oilers and able seamen are. The Europeans work for four months and then have three months off. Some have been working on this shipping route for eight years, while others have been all over the world and seen almost all the major ports. One of them hasn’t been home at Christmas for five years and another is trying to decide when he should get off so he can spend this Christmas at home. He’d ideally like to work for a ferry company so that he can work for two weeks at a time. The Polish officer has only recently returned from his time off. The Filipinos rarely get to go home.

Each container costs about $1,000 to transport from Asia to America, with the bigger, hazardous or refrigerated containers being more expensive. At full capacity they’d be taking about $7 million for this transportation. So there’s really quite a lot of money in it. The ship gobbles up a lot of fuel though and it's by no means a green mode of transportation, but at least we're not the reason for it being on the sea, unlike an aeroplane. I forget how many gallons of fuel will be consumed during the voyage across the Pacific, but the fuel will cost in the region of $1.76 million for the 11 days.

The cooks aboard these ships are all taught to cook European style and when they first arrive apparently cook an exciting variety of dishes. However after that they just relax into a boringly monotonous menu according to the the chief engineer. The Filipinos eat a more exotic menu in a different room on the other side of the kitchen.

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