14 Amazing Facts about Shipping Containers


Image by Manel via Flickr

There are a million little pieces of intrigue when it comes to the life of a used shipping container that so few ever come to learn. We thought we’d assemble this tell-all post about the secret lives of shipping containers.

With a lifespan of over 20 years on average, used shipping containers have been through all kinds of scrapes and challenges; from rough seas to knocking shoulders with Moby Dick, we’re sure there’s a story for every occasion, if only they could speak.

Let’s take a look at other fascinating shipping container trivia.

Shipping Containers Explained!

  1. Few know of the secret lives of shipping containers because the likelihood of them being inspected by any of the various authorities who do that sort of thing is only around 5%. Yup, that’s right. Only 5% of shipping containers are ever inspected on their journey. With all the hype over National Security, you think we’d fill these cracks instead of invading people’s privacy – but that’s another story
  2. Shippers are a secretive bunch; it is widely accepted that members to ship owners’ associations are generally anonymous to the public, with the associations refusing to reveal how many members they have – and who those members are.
  3. Pirates are real! In fact, the rate of pirate attacks outside of Somalia is higher than the crime rate in South Africa in the most violent places on the entire planet.
  4. Shipping is mind-blowingly cheap – it can cost more to mail a letter to Thailand than it can be to ship a thousand oranges from California to Thailand.
  5. Right this minute there are over 17 million shipping containers on the planet and 6 million of them are in transit as I write this. Crazy.
  6. When averaged out over the course of a year, 1 shipping container is lost to Davey Jones’ locker a little bit over an hour. How’s that for some amazing facts about Shipping Containers!
  7. Over 97% of all shipping containers in circulation and even those sitting used in lots waiting for new owners were all made in China. China is the largest exporter of new shipping containers, and China also has the busiest ports in the world.
  8. Every shipping container in the world has a CSC plate on it. A CSC plate is an asset tag of sorts, which verifies the condition and ship worthiness of a particular shipping container.
  9. Shipping goods via shipping container over the ocean is the central way we ship on the EARTH. Over 95% of goods shipping traverses the oceans – and it is estimated that looks like around 200 million journeys per YEAR!
  10. The busiest port in the United States is in Los Angeles – and it is STILL only # 17 globally.
  11. To build the biggest ships to coast along the world’s oceans it can cost in excess of 200 million US dollars.
  12. Women only make up 2% of seafaring supply chain workers. What gives?!
  13. Uh-ohhhh! Only 1 in 10 ship crew-members have access to the internet while they’re on the job, and around two-thirds of ship crews in the world have absolutely no way to communicate with the rest of the world at any given time. Can you imagine?!
  14. You may source your products ethically, but when it comes to shipping, it’s anyone’s guess how ethical the journeys are – think about it. They live so far off the grid there is no law. Anything can happen. And the employees that make up the majority of ship crew come from second and third world countries.

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