THE world’s largest container ship lifted its 29-ton anchor from British waters yesterday to begin its return voyage, gathering up scrap and waste from around Europe in exchange for its cargo of Christmas goods from China.
Having unloaded 3,000 containers of consumer goods in less than 24 hours, the Emma Maersk left Felixstowe last night reloaded with crates of waste plastic, paper and steel from Britain.
Relieved of tons of su doku puzzles, cocktail shakers and toy gorillas, the vessel’s vast belly has now also been filled with more mundane British exports, such as nail varnish remover, cleaning products, cigarettes and alcohol.
Many of the 1,600 boxes picked up during its British pitstop, however, contained nothing. The exchange — which, for the ship dubbed “SS Santa”, must be the economic equivalent of a mince pie and a glass of milk — is a telling symbol of the one-sided trading relationship between the UK and Asia.
Its speedy turnaround, thanks to six cranes, 300 dock workers and a complex computerised loading system, also shows the sophistication of the container ship industry which is now relied upon to transport about three quarters of global trade. The Times
Excellent news - I hope Gordon Brown realises that this is good economic news and is why he should carry on shouting about the advantages of globalisation and free trade. (But the salty old seaman that I am wistfully remembers the old days as well...)
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.