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SHIPPING

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Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 988 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SHIPPING. To the floating log and paddle of the primeval fisherman must doubtless be attributed the first beginning of the great industry of merchant shipping. The hollowing long serve to convert the embryo craft into a vessel navigable in the smooth and narrow waters which lapped the shores of the Mediterranean and the far distant East. The coastal villages had need of worked stone knives, of beads and of skins for winter coverings, to be obtained by barter for their fish and salt. Passing from settlement to settlement dotted on the shore, the traders found in the local skiffs a convenient alternative to the rough and tedious tracks along the winding or indented coast. In course of time they established themselves at the coastal settlements and built or purchased craft for their own use. As populations and their needs increased, the traders, gaining confidence by experience, built larger vessels and extended the area of their barter, sailing in companies, for mutual safety and defence. Of the early days of this traffic, as developed in the East, we have but little information, but in the Eastern seas, apparently, the Chinese usually came no farther than the coast of Malabar. The Malays seem in all ages to have traded with India and probably with the coast of Africa. In the Indian Ocean the Arabians were the principal carriers. Greatest of all the ancient navigators nearer to the West were the Phoenicians, the hardy sons of Tyre and Sidon. To the remarkable maritime ascendancy of Tyre Ezekiel xxvii. bears eloquent testimony. King Solomon's undertaking for the building of the temple was largely founded on the support of Phoenician Hiram. Much later, but still some 2000 years ago, ships had become a common means of transport and were of no small size, since the centurion charged with the conveyance of St Paul to Rome(Acts xxvii.) found at Myra an Alexandrian ship about to sail with wheat for Italy, which was able to take on board, besides the cargo, the whole of the company, making a total of 276 souls in all. Then, as now, ships were but links in a mighty chain of commerce on the land, a commerce for which the ports are the centres of collection and distribution. The products of India and Europe were conveyed from east and west in stages by inland or coastal routes with which in their entirety India and Europe alike were unacquainted (Vincent). And, generally, in the ancient days ocean commerce ceased with the summer season, and sea-borne goods from the distant east to the remote west found their way from entrep8t to entrep8t. These entrep8ts were great trading centres, the advantageous situation of London. for example, having before the days of the Roman conquest marked it out as a convenient emporium for the northern trade. The Phoenicians, especially, for centuries pushed their commerce farther and farther afield, establishing factories and trading ports which in time grew into independent settlements. Cadiz, the ancient Gadir, was one of such, and from Gadir or more northern settlements the Phoenicians visited Britain, bartering merchandise for tin at Cornwall or the Scilly Isles. Amongst the various nations of the south, between whom the great shipping heritage of the Phoenicians was in course of time divided, the Rhodians rose to great importance. By these notable traders was drawn up a code of maritime laws, many of which were embodied in the Roman law, and eventually, at or about the time of Richard I., became a foundation for the Law of Oleron, which is in some part adopted at this day. Emerging from the constant struggles in the Mediterranean and Adriatic, the Venetians, Genoese and Pisans attained to great prosperity and renown, the reputation of the Genoese as shipbuilders creating from time to time a demand for their ships on the part of the nations struggling for maritime supremacy in the channel and the North Sea. The once familiar English word " argosy t' dates from the appreciation of the vessels built at Arguze or Ragusa, a Dalmatian city on the Adriatic. The proximity of Italy to the Holy Land tended greatly to the prosperity of the Italian shipping. In very early days the commerce of northern Europe was principally carried on by inland routes. With the increase and civilization of the populations, the cities on the navigable rivers and on the sea found the advantage of ocean commerce, and strove for supremacy in trade. In Britain many an ancient seaboard town, from Bristol to far north Inverness, largely owing to the enterprise of the Flemish and the German merchants, became important as a trading centre. The English merchants were not without ships, but the foreign traders were enterprising and wealthy, and in their emulation for the renowned English wool and for English hides were prepared to venture much. In those days and for several centuries later the history of shipping was a history of arbitrary restraints, of claims for exclusive rights of trading and navigation, and of pretexts of various kinds, resulting in captures and burnings, in embargoes and confiscations in port and in fierce reprisals. The merchant-man was a more or less armed vessel prepared alike for aggression or defence, a condition of affairs to which has probably to be attributed the occasional construction of vessels of a tonnage then remarkable. The ships of Spain and Portugal, of England and the Netherlands—of French shipping for a considerable period there was comparatively little—homeward bound from Indian ports and factories and from the New World's trading settlements from time to time were preyed on by one another. The Algerian and Barbary corsairs, with nothing to lose and everything to gain in merchandise and captives, were the dread of all who sailed the seas from Lisbon to Gibraltar—and indeed still farther north—and within the straits. The insurance of the voyagers against capture and the payment of head-money for their ransom was a well-established system of the times. In England, the Cinque ports, in consideration of valuable privileges, were specially engaged to hold vessels at the service of the state, but on need arising the ports at large were called upon for ships and men. These demands at times became oppressive. Thus we read that in 1371 it was complained in parliament arty of a log and the addition of a skin sail would before history. that owing to the demands of the king the merchants were being ruined and their mariners driven into other trades. The size or measurement of ships was assessed on the basis of their capacity to carry tuns of wine, the first step in the present system of tonnage measurement. Ships sailed in fleets, one or more of their masters being appointed admirals, to be obeyed by all the company. In times of special maritime disturbance an armed fleet convoyed the merchantmen, much, no doubt, to the added cost of transport. The great source of England's wealth was her wool, of which the abundance and fineness gave rise to a wide demand. Staples or licensed entrep8ts or marts were set up for this and other produce at certain towns in England and overseas, English merchants associating themselves at such foreign staples. In like manner foreign trading societies located themselves under certain privileges and obligations at English marts, to the great increase of ship-ping, more especially of foreign bottoms. About the middle of the 15th century a considerable use sprang up for shipping in the carriage of African slaves to Portugal, their captors being the Moors. In later years this melancholy trade found large employment for the ships of Liverpool, Bristol and London, trading with the distant west. Pilgrimages, too, were bringing profit to the ships, a constant stream of the devout with their offerings journeying on the one hand to the shrine of St James of Cornpostela and on the other to that of St Thomas of Canterbury. From times remote the fishing industry produced a hardy race of shipmen, the maritime nations being all more or less engaged in an enterprise rendered doubly lucrative by the want of flesh meat and the regulations of Holy Church. Thus in very early days the northern seas were thronged with rival fishing fleets, which, from about the middle of the 15th century, began to find their way to the banks of Newfoundland. At the close. of the 16th century the whale was being pursued by rival fishermen on the Greenland coasts. Queen Elizabeth, for the maintenance of shipping and the increase of fishermen and mariners, forbade the eating of flesh on Wednesdays and Saturdays, an order from time to time subsequently revived. Sir Walter Raleigh, in his statement to King James, lamenting English commercial supineness as compared with the enterprise of the Dutch, declared that 20,000 vessels of all nations were engaged in fishing off the British coasts, of which vessels the Dutch owned 3000; and no doubt they formed a valuable mercantile and naval school. The great discoveries of the renowned Spanish and Portuguese navigators in the reign of Henry VII. awoke in the maritime states a new spirit of commercial enterprise and emulation, in which Henry and his successors took an active part. A royal grant of navigation and discovery was given to the Cabots, then settled at Bristol, and " divers tall ships " of London, Southampton and Bristol traded direct with the Mediterranean ports, though the English merchants generally employed foreign vessels for this trade. A " tall" ship was apparently a vessel carrying topmast with yards and square sails, an important development of the simpler pole-mast rig of earlier times. Henry VIII. and Ferdinand of Spain entered into a league, primarily aimed at France, under which it was agreed to police the seas in protection of their shipping, the English fleet to watch the sea to Gibraltar, and Spain to guard the Mediterranean. The Corporation of the Trinity House was now established, in great part for the deepening of the Thames and to supply shipping with the ballast gained in the process, though the vessels actually London-owned were apparently few in number. Most English ships of burthen were then obtained by purchase at the South Baltic ports, where the great Hanse town, Lubeck, was the centre of an enormous trade. The Hanse towns, indeed, practically carried on the trade of England. In the time of Elizabeth, England began to achieve commercial independence. Great building of ships took place, for which bounties were granted by the queen, and Elizabeth set herself against the Hanseatic league. At the close of her reign the Steelyard was shut up, and the Dutch were competing successfully with the Hanse towns, of which " most of their teeth were out and the rest but loose." In the early days of commerce the risks were too considerable to be borne byindividuals, who accordingly associated themselves as companies of merchant adventurers for the purposes of their particular trade, exclusive rights and privileges being granted to them by their own sovereign, and corresponding facilities on the part of the foreign states or cities traded with. In England certain of these societies, notably the company of Russian merchants, the Turkey merchants and, for long, the East India Company, occupied positions of influence and importance, the last-named company especially becoming possessed of much shipping, including large vessels, well armed, for prize-making or defence. The needs of trade and shipping were for long but little under-stood and often arbitrarily obstructed, but as a broad general principle it was recognized by the crown that the national trading interests required for their protection special privileges and concessions. Thus the patent granted by Elizabeth to the African adventurers in 1588 was expressed to be on the ground that " the adventuring of a new trade cannot be a matter of small charge and hazard to the adventurers in the beginning." At the middle of the 16th century Antwerp was at the zenith of its great prosperity. It was described as the general store-house of the world, and it was stated that so many as 2500 vessels might be seen lying in the Scheldt at one time. These, however, were mainly foreign, Antwerp being a mart or emporium to which other nations traded. Towards the close of the century this great city's peaceful population was, in the name of Holy Church, crushed under the iron heel of Christian Spain. Its traders fled from cruelty and torture largely to Amsterdam, about this time the northern entrep6t for Portugal's East India trade. The Hollanders, profiting by the decline of the Hanse towns, were now greatly devoting themselves to shipbuilding and to foreign trade. They, like the English, hampered in their navigation by hostile and unfriendly occupation of the ports of refuge and supply at the two great southern capes, were bent on discovering a north-east or north-west passage to the East. This enterprise and the desire for gems and precious metals, as to the existence and abundance of which there were many false beliefs, added greatly to the knowledge of the distant seas and shores, on which many settlements were being established. To such settlements the attention of the French was now directed, with much encouragement to their shipping by the powerful Richelieu. The East Indian settlements and shipping of the Portuguese were being persistently harassed by the advancing Dutch, while the rich treasure ships of Spain were laid wait for and captured by English shipping, greatly to the Spanish loss. But the Dutch especially were prospering. Amsterdam, a vast trade centre supplied by Dutch shipping, had between 1571 and 165o trebled itself in size. So far back as 1603 Sir Walter Raleigh, in his statement to King James, had complained that the vessels of the Dutch, by reason of their greater capacity and smaller crews and consequently lower freights, were cutting out the English ships or driving them into the Newcastle coal trade. By such enterprise the Hollanders gradually became the carriers for the English merchants. English bottoms were neglected and English seamen took service with the Dutch. Affairs for English shipping had about 165o reached a crisis. There existed, moreover, great animosity between the English and the Hollanders. In the defence of the national shipping the great Navigation Act was in 1651 placed upon the British statute-book. Under this far-reaching act the trade between England and her colonies and the British coasting trade was strictly ;on:Act confined to English bottoms, English owned and 1651, manned substantially by English seamen. The act contained further provisions in support of British shipping, the effect of which was greatly to prejudice foreign shipping in its competition for the British carrying trade. It is not impossible that some of the regulations of the act may have proceeded from the animosity already mentioned (Adam Smith). From the point of view of the Dutch, indeed, it was a " vile act and order," to be resisted at all costs. From the prolonged hostilities which ensued England finally emerged supreme at sea. For some time the French, under the powerful encouragement of Richelieu and English progress. subsequently of Colbert, had been devoting themselves to colonial enterprises both across the Atlantic and in distant India, to the eventual important increase of French shipping, whilst on the other hand Spanish shipping was declining. As the result of the Navigation Act and its successful maintenance a great increase had taken place in English tonnage, which in 1688 was said to be nearly double that of 1666. In the war with France this increase was greatly in favour of her privateers, which in two years are stated to have captured 3000 British ships as against but 67 which were taken from France, a result in part attributable to her employment of Dutch vessels. About this time Inverness, long devoted to shipbuilding, had obtained a high reputation for its ships. In 1701 England's private shipping numbered 3281 vessels, of a total burthen of 261,222 tons and carrying 566o guns, London leading with 56o ships of 84,882 tons, Bristol coming next with 165 of 17,338 1011S, Liverpool being seventh on the list with 102 ships. Thirty years later London's ships 18th had increased to 1417, ranging from 15 tons to a great CR°tury' ship of 750 tons owned by the South Sea Company, but the majority measured less than 200 tons. In 1765 we read that the Dutch, Danish and Swedish ships were generally larger than the English vessels and that they had succeeded in ousting England as the carrier of Lisbon's Mediterranean trade. In 1714 an act was passed, and at subsequent dates revived, offering public rewards for improved methods of ascertaining longitude at sea, and John Harrison (" that heaven taught artist" ) received in all £20,000 for the invention of a chronometer which was successful to a degree of accuracy beyond that for which the act provided. Towards the second half of the 18th century the foundations were laid of the present great shipping industry on the Great Lakes. Oak timber of large size was now becoming scarce in England, and in the interests of the navy restrictions were placed upon the East India Company as regards its use. British merchant shipping, too, had apparently outgrown the supply of seamen, for towards the close of the century it was permitted to British vessels to carry foreign seamen to the extent of three-fourths of the crew. The traffic in African negroes gave much employment to British shipping. The war with America led to the harrying of British commerce by American privateers cruising off the English coasts. War premiums were very high and the insurance obtainable was insufficient. Partly on this account and partly owing to the fact that about 10oo British vessels had been taken up for transport and other public services, whilst many more were sailed as privateers, the Thames was now full of foreign vessels loading British cargoes. During the absence from the West Indies of the British fleet under Admiral Byron, engaged in conveying homewards the West Indian merchantmen, two valuable British islands were captured by the French. The hostilities of the rival states were being fought out at sea, with peaceful commerce as their objective. The seas swarmed with privateers, armed and equipped as sordid speculative enterprises, occasional rich prizes stimulating the greed of many citizens, not a few of them, no doubt, the owners of ships and merchandise which had in like manner fallen to the enemy. The French privateer " Bordelais," captured by the English in 1799, is reported to have taken in four years 164 prizes, of the net value of £1,000,000 sterling (Mahan). Between May 17 56 and July 17 57 a total of 772 French vessels was captured by the British, whilst 637 British ships were taken by the French. It was declared in the House of Lords in February 1778 that the value of the British captures of American vessels had amounted to £1,808,000, against which that of British shipping captured by America had been £1,800,000. Towards the close of the prolonged hostilities which concluded in 1815 Liverpool and Glasgow were holding public meetings and urging upon the admiralty and the throne that they were being ruined by the want of protection to their shipping. In 1786 an act was passed (26 Geo. III. c. 86) for the encouragement of shipping, in which the personal liability of shipowners, till then unlimited, was in certain cases of their loss of cargo now limited to the value of the vessel and her freight, the first of progressive acts of thelike nature. Smuggling was for long the cause of serious loss to the national revenue, and an act was passed declaring forfeited any British sloops or cutters found within four leagues of the coast if provided with a bowsprit exceeding two-thirds of the vessel in length (27 Geo. III. c. 32). In 1797 the English and Scottish private vessels numbered together 12,995 of 1,385,252 tons burthen. With respect to tonnage, in the days of wooden vessels the weight of cargo which a ship was capable of carrying was about equivalent to her own displacement or breaking-up weight. Nowadays, owing to steel construction and the adoption of a fuller cross-section in ship designing, the carrying capacity of a cargo steamer is reported to be about double, or even more than double, the ship's own weight; but types of steamers of course vary. The Board of Trade ton is 100 cub. ft., purely a measure of permanently covered in space, and not to be confounded with the ship's capacity to carry dead-weight, of which capacity the registered tonnage is consequently not to be regarded as an index. For the purpose of a rough and ready calculation, however, the dead-weight carrying capacity of an average cargo steamer may be taken to be about twice that of her net registered tonnage or a little more. The chief object of fixing and registering the gross and net tonnage is the establishment of a basis of assessment for tonnage dues and for liability for payment of damages caused by wrongful navigation or otherwise. The present diversity in the designs of steamships is in no small degree due to a desire on the part of shipowners to possess vessels which with a minimum of registered tonnage shall provide a maximum of cargo space. The close of the 18th century was marked, especially in America, by attention to the possibilities of steam navigation. A new era in shipping had dawned, and year by year 19th and step by step, from river craft to short-voyage century. vessels, the new motive power gained ground. In 1833 the Canadian vessel " Royal William" steamed throughout from Quebec to London, making the voyage in seventeen days, and in 1838 the " Great Western " and the " Sirius " arrived on the same day at New York, having crossed the Atlantic in eighteen days and fifteen days respectively (Pollock). In 1840 was founded the celebrated Cunard Steamship Company, the nucleus of its fleet being four wooden paddle steamers, also equipped as sailing vessels. Each was about 206 ft. in length and of about 1145 tons burthen. At the beginning of the loth century American shipowners had laid themselves out to obtain command of the Atlantic trade, from which the British Navigation Act did not debar them. With this aim, ships of great sailing power and carrying capacity were constructed; being provided in addition with ingenious labour-saving devices which materially enhanced their economy in working. Successful in their attempts on the Atlantic trade, the Americans now set themselves to gain predominance in the trade with China, for which they provided vessels of unexampled speed. But British owners, put upon their mettle, eventually succeeded in designing a class of sailing ship superior to any yet constructed, while the advantages of steam navigation were now proving fatal to American sailing vessels in the Atlantic (Cornewall-Jones). The use of steam was becoming general, to the gradual displacement of sailing vessels, though the Australian trade for some considerable time continued to be carried on by sailing ships of wide renown. The opening of the Suez Canal and the provision of coaling stations on the long sea routes eventually, however, placed the bulk of the Australasian carrying trade in the hands of the steamship owners, the principal employment for large sailing vessels now being in the Pacific trade. Probably in great part on account of the cost and difficulty of fuel supplies, the Californian wheat trade, and the guano and the nitrate trades of the South Pacific, are thus still competed for by sailing vessels, some of them of remarkable capacity. For some years the possibilities of iron in shipbuilding had been slowly gaining recognition, to the eventual displacement in Great Britain, though not in the United States, of wooden hulls. Partly as the result of the war between the Northern and Southern states and partly owing to the superior advantages of iron hulls, not yet constructed together with the great export trade for which these were now in America, the United States now further lost place as ocean carriers. In 1908 the chief employment of her ocean shipping was on the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. The steady increase in steampropelled vessels resulted in the establishment of many coaling stations in distant parts, with much employment of shipping to supply them. Towards the middle of the 19th century British shipowners were greatly alarmed at proposals to repeal the navigation acts, and in spite of their petitions and remonstrances, and of demands that the bill, eventually introduced, should at least require reciprocity, in 1849 the proposed measure became an act, the coastal trade being in 1854 similarly thrown open, this latter measure being induced by the need for British ships and seamen for the purposes of the Crimean War (Lindsay). Probably in no small degree owing to the discovery of gold in California and Australia about this time, and to the further employment provided for shipping by the Crimean War and by the necessities of the Indian Mutiny, the direful forebodings of British owners as to the consequences of the repeal of the Navigation Act were not verified. In 1856 the Treaty of Paris and its appended Declaration pronounced, amongst other notable clauses affecting maritime warfare, the abolition of privateering. To this great treaty most of the maritime states in course of time gave their adhesion, the United States and Spain, however, not yet being signatories. The altered conditions as between warships and merchant vessels, and the disabilities imposed by neutrality laws have, however, in themselves done very much to render privateering as formerly conducted no longer possible. But the Declaration, notwithstanding, the employment of duly commissioned merchant vessels may still be resorted to by the state for the destruction of commerce and for other belligerent purposes. In 1858, after great difficulty and outlay, Brunel's huge ship the " Great Eastern" was floated on the Thames. The vessel, having a length of 679 ft. and a burden of 18,337 tons gross and 13,344 tons net (Lloyd's Register) and being provided with six sail-carrying masts, was furnished both with a screw propeller and with paddles. Highly successful as an engineering enterprise, commercially she was from the first a ruinous failure. Under the remarkable development of the Atlantic passenger traffic, however, the size of steamships steadily and continually increased. In 1873, as the outcome of a prolonged public agitation con-ducted by Mr Samuel Plimsoll, member for Derby, a royal commission was appointed to inquire into his allegations that many lives were lost owing to the unseaworthiness of ships. In 1876, under pressure of public sympathy with the views of Mr Plimsoll, an amended Merchant Shipping Act was passed (39 & 40 Vic. C. 80), making it a penal offence to knowingly send a ship to sea unseaworthy, and requiring a loadline to be fixed on British vessels, the line to be indicated on ocean going vessels by what is now universally known as the Plimsoll mark. The opening in 1869 of the Suez Canal created a revolution in the eastern shipping trade. Year by year steamships increased greatly in number and in burden. With improved conditions of steam navigation the supplementary use of sails was generally abandoned, masts being retained only for signalling purposes and as attachments for cargo hoists. New conditions in ship construction, the commercial demand for expedition and the manufacture of new articles of commerce together resulted in an increased risk of fire on ships both at sea and in port, with great loss primarily to underwriters, more especially by the flooding of holds full of valuable cargo. To overcome this danger steam-ships are being increasingly equipped with an apparatus which on the outbreak of fire enables the holds to be filled with a fire-extinguishing gas. The invention and adoption of refrigerating machinery and insulated holds resulted in the development of a vast trade in frozen meat and perishable produce. The triumph of Germany in the Franco-Prussian War awoke in the Fatherland a spirit of industrial enterprise which greatly increased the population of her manufacturing areas. The supplies required by the prosperous industrial populations and the national demand for raw materials for the manufactories, laying themselves out, filled the German and other North Sea ports with shipping. Germany, able to consume whole shiploads of various foreign products, now imported these direct instead of in parcels through London and other ports. Unwilling that the profit of carrying her great and increasing trade should be reaped by foreign bottoms, Germany turned herself to shipowning and shipbuilding, and with remarkable success. So great, indeed, was this success that important lines of German steamships rapidly grew up as competitors with British and other lines in foreign trades. Both in bringing home raw materials and in enabling German manufacturers to send their products to foreign consumers at low rates of freight, the German shipping was now greatly increasing the national prosperity. In return, the state neglected nothing which would promote the success of its industrial centres in their competition for foreign markets, or which would assist the development of the national shipping. Rates of carriage from inland centres to the shipping ports were, in the case of goods intended for shipment by German vessels, considerably reduced by the state railways; and whereas in Great Britain shipping subsidies or subventions are granted essentially if not solely for services to be rendered, in Germany the granting of subsidies has also in view the development of the national shipping. The notable growth in Germany's trade and shipping is in fact believed to be in no small degree attributable to a system of subsidies to shipping in conjunction with preferential railway rates on German goods despatched for shipment under " through " bills of lading under the national flag. In the Far East also, a new and important maritime competitor has sprung up, the industrial and commercial awakening of Japan having been attended by the creation of a Japanese merchant fleet and by much enterprise in the national ship-building. To the name of every Japanese merchant vessel is added the word " Maru," in ancient times a masculine " humility title," but in its present use having the approximate signification of " dearest" or " esteemed." The following figures, supplied by Lloyd's Register, recording the number and tonnage of German and Japanese steamers and sailing vessels of loo tons and upwards, illustrate severally the recent maritime progress of the two countries: Germany. Japan. Year. N0 Sailing N0. Sailing Vessels Net, No. ng Vessels Net, Gross. Steamers Gross. Tons. Tons. 1 890 1875 1,569,311 289 171,554 1900 2178 12,650,033 1066 574,557 9 4,3 45 1908 steamers 1806 3,839,378 865 1,140,177 only In consequence of an act passed by the French government to grant bounties on sailing vessels constructed and owned in France, the owners of such vessels found it to their profit, the bounty being assessed on distances sailed, to engage in long voyages, with the earning of freight as a secondary consideration. This procedure being found to operate prejudicially on the freight earnings of sailing vessels generally, and more especially in the Pacific trade, an international meeting of the owners of sailing vessels was held at Paris in 1903, with the result of the formation of the Sailing Ship Owners' International Union to maintain rates of freight, French owners identifying themselves with the measures decided on by the union in the common interest. Influenced, no doubt, by German example, certain French steamship companies about this time decided to grant preferential combined tariffs on goods sent from inland centres of production in France for shipment by their vessels, to the great dissatisfaction of the owners of foreign steamers loading for similar destinations at French ports. Early in 1902 a shipping pool or " combine " was effected in the case of certain important British steam lines engaged in the North Atlantic trade. The combine, involving vast capital values, was engineered by a well-known New York business house largely interested in American railways. In England it was variously attributed to a resolve on the part of American traders to share in the transport of the national trade; to a desire on the part of the lines concerned to effect economies by a consolidation of management, and to a scheme intended to benefit certain great American railways. The transaction gave rise to much comment in Great Britain, being by not a few regarded as contemplating the eventual transfer of the lines to American owner-ship. And indeed, though the steamers continued to be under the British flag, the extent to which they remain substantially under British ownership cannot be affirmed. It was stated in 1908 that on completion of its building programme the combined fleet would consist of 132 vessels of together, 1,159,704 tons. The general adoption of steamships in place of sailing vessels was gradually followed by their separation into two classes, one devoted to a fixed service on regular lines of employment, the other to promiscuous trade. The former class are now known somewhat vaguely as " liners," ranging, however, from the first-class mail and passenger steamer on the one hand, to the regular cargo steamer on the other. To the second class belong the " seekers " or " tramps " which come and go wherever profitable employment offers, and which more especially lay themselves out to be chartered to carry full cargoes of coal, timber, wheat, nitrate, jute and such like. These vessels, some of which are of great capacity, are frequently in competition with the liners. This competition sometimes results in " cut rates " of freight, to the serious loss of the great shipowning firms and companies. With the establishment of regular lines, moreover, there grew up competition between rival lines, with similar results. A solution was found by the creation of working agreements between rival lines at agreed rates of freight, but the lines thus associated were still exposed to the attacks of " tramps " upon what the liner owners regarded as their privileged trade. Fierce conflicts from time to time ensued, with great disturbance of the freight market and with consequent loss or inconvenience to the merchants themselves. As the result, shipping " rings " or " conferences" were created in many trades, the owners of the liners undertaking to provide the traders with a regular service accompanied by advantageous conditions, whilst the traders undertook to ship only by the conference steamers. In order to ensure this support, the shipowners instituted the system of deferred rebates, under which each merchant, at the end of a year or other fixed period, should be entitled to a discount or rebate on the amount of freight paid by him during such period, provided that he should have shipped no goods at all by steamers outside the conference, the discount only to be paid after a further fixed period of six or nine months, during which time also he should rigidly support the conference lines. In the event of failure to comply with the conditions, a merchant is exposed to forfeiture of the rebate, and in addition to measures in the nature of a boycott on the part of the conference lines. Notwithstanding, attempts are from time to time made by steamers outside the ring to gain admittance, with the consequence of occasional freight wars, and with the incidental result that goods are sometimes carried, for example, from America to a British colony at lower rates of freight than similar goods manufactured in England. Mainly on account of complaints made against the working of the South African ring, a British royal commission was in 1906 appointed to take evidence and report upon the subject generally. With the growth of populations and the development of means of transport, both by land and sea, a great increase arose both in production and consumption, and competition became very keen for markets, both home and foreign. In this competition the cost of carriage is always an element of great importance, even though the freight payment may bear but an insignificant relation to the value of the goods carried. For in modern trade rivalries every penny saved in charges counts with the importer, and if goods of a similar kind can, by reason of lower transport charges, be obtained a fraction cheaper from one industrial centre than from another, the tendency is to give the preference to the centre orcountry which can deliver most cheaply to the consumer. Trade follows cheapness, and, with the world's industrial development, the striving for cheapness took at the outset the form of economies in production. The day of small trade with large profits was passed, and producers of all kinds now aimed at a large output at diminished cost, and contended themselves with a smaller ratio of profits on a larger business. The utmost economy was studied with a view to successful competition, especially in over-seas markets; and in this struggle for the cheapening of supplies the cost of transport became an important element. The fact was recognized that the ship is but a link in the chain of connexion between producer and consumer, and the system of " through " bills of lading was introduced, under which a particular steamer line or railway service contracted for the through-carriage of goods in conjunction with other lines, with the object and effect of cheapening the transport as a whole. Individual shipowners, in order to obtain cargoes for their ships, were in turn driven to devise economies in transport, with the result that rates of freight were continually reduced. In modern ocean carriage size means cheapness, the transport of a given weight of cargo being cheaper in a single vessel than in two vessels each of half the size. For not only does this concentration of carrying power effect economy of officers and crew, with their wages, provisions and accommodation space, but in ship-building also size makes for cheapness. Thus, if, for example, two steamers each carrying 2000 tons will cost together say £4c,000, a single vessel of equal carrying capacity can be supplied for £35,000. Or, put another way, if for £40,000 two steamers can be built to carry between them 4000 tons, for the same sum a single vessel can, it is stated, be provided to carry 4700 tons. Consequently, the size of vessels is continually on the increase, and no sooner is a navigable channel at much cost made deep enough for the great vessels knocking at the door of the port, than still larger are constructed, and shipowners complain anew that the harbour depth provided is insufficient. The constant demand for greater depths resulted in the production of mammoth dredgers of which, also, the size and power are continually increasing. At the present time it is the navigable depth of ports and canals, and the need of adequate dry docks, rather than the obtaining of cargoes, which are the controlling factors in the size of great ocean vessels. But the heavy interest on the capital cost of these vessels and their working expenses call for the utmost despatch in their loading and discharge, and with the simultaneous arrival of several vessels of large tonnage, the question of prompt discharge is one of great and increasing difficulty. For many modern steamers will carry 10,000 tons of cargo, and some a great deal more; so that, with old-type railway trucks carrying ordinarily only about 8 tons, it not infrequently happens that the discharge' of the ship, equipped though she be with remarkable facilities for landing her cargo and assisted by discharge into barges, is impeded owing to deficiency of shore clearance. If 8 tons be taken as the capacity of an ordinary railway truck and 30 trucks be allowed to a train, it will be obvious that a single modern cargo ship will require a vast procession of rolling stock to clear her cargo. A single cargo of 10,000 tons, for example, will require some 1250 railway trucks for its removal; or, allowing 6 yards' length to the truck, 7500 yards of rolling stock, without engines and vans. And, in fact, congestion of shipping owing to delays is frequently the cause of bitter complaint in the case of certain ports. Trucks of much increased capacity are now being introduced, but for various reasons their adoption is very slow. In port polemics the argument is sometimes heard that the backwardness of this or that port will result in the trade being driven elsewhere: the ships, it is said, will remove it. But the ship is but the blind instrument of trade, to come and go where and as trade calls it. The ship will, however, sooner or later require a higher rate of freight for ports of slow despatch, and this increased expense in transport will undoubtedly operate in favour of rival ports. For the ports themselves are but stepping-stones to or from a market or industrial centre, and the market will always select the cheapest route for its trade. With the increase of populations in the Old World and the development of new countries, the transport of emigrants and of travellers for business and for pleasure became a highly important and lucrative source of employment for steam ship-ping. It is now indeed becoming a common practice on the part of ocean steamship companies to employ a surplus or superseded vessel of their fleet solely in carrying holiday tourists to a succession of foreign ports. In regular traffic the demand for increased speed and greater security and comfort on the part of ocean travellers resulted in the competitive evolution of passenger steamers of dimensions and draught which create an increasing strain on port and dock authorities. These remarks must not be concluded without mention of the important part played in the evolution of modern shipping by the system of marine insurance and by the rules of classification. For the cost of insurance is a heavy tax on the profits of the shipowners, and only by providing vessels of the best construction and maintaining their reputation can owners gain the advantage of low insurance rates. And not only so, but by the merchants also, to whom insurance premiums are a no less serious consideration; vessels of the highest class and reputation are insisted on with a view to cheap cargo insurance, inferior ships being consequently placed at a serious disadvantage. On the other hand the rules of construction and classification of the Society tion of Lloyd's) are most exacting, and any failure to comply from the totals as appearing in Lloyd's Register. surance as well as to her employment in successful competition for Russia. ports, the great society offers every facility for the classing of the home shipping:- and inland city, and therefore shipped by the fastest vessels. Competition for freights and competition for passengers, these are the great and beneficent forces which are silently but irresistibly developing the ship, while insurance and classification are the potent handmaids of this competition. Number and Tonnage of Steamers and Sailing Vessels (of too tons and upwards) belonging to various countries as recorded in the 1908 Edition of Lloyd's Register or Book. Country. Vessels. Tonnage. (Net for Sailing Vessels and Gross for Steamers.) United Kingdom 9,542 17,318,351 United Kingdom and Colonies (A) 11,563 18,709,537 United States (B) . ." 3,480 4,810,268 Germany . 2,178 4,232,145 Norway . . . . 2,148 1,982,878 France 1,517 1,883,894 Italy . 1,098 1,285,225 Japan (Steamers only) . 865 1,140,177 Russia (C) 1,381 974,517 Sweden . 1,542 904,155 Spain . . 551 701,278 Holland . 565 876,62o Denmark . 87o 733,790 (D. 0.)
End of Article: SHIPPING
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