Friday, March 23

BIG boat!

 Yesterday I watched a video from a San Francisco television station showing the biggest-ever cargo container ship entering the San Francisco bay. Truly it was a monster ship. The tugboat operators in the bay had practiced using virtual reality software for a year and a half for the ship’s arrival. Bay dredgers made sure the channel it would follow was deep enough and wide enough. The tidal flow through the Golden Gate had to be just right; the wind had to be just right. The conditions yesterday made it all possible, and a local television station put its best-coiffed, deepest-voiced reporter on the assignment to present this historic event to the slavering public.

What followed was the most inaccurate reportage I had witnessed in a whole long time. The reporter described the arriving vessel as being bigger, at 1,200 feet long and 110,000 tons, than even the biggest US Navy aircraft carrier, which was true. But the statistics he used were so off the mark my ears perked up. He said our biggest aircraft carriers were maybe 1,000 feet long. The Enterprise, my carrier of fifty years ago, was 1,123 feet long. He said our biggest aircraft carrier was 70,000 tons. The fifty-year-old Enterprise displaced 93,000 tons. He described the container ship’s capacity as 12,500 20-foot containers. I don’t think anyone is shipping such tiny containers anymore. When Karla and I drove to Death Valley recently, we ran alongside and played tag with a very long freight train loaded with a whole mile of nothing smaller than 53-foot cargo containers heading south from the Port of Oakland.

The whole gist of his report was something you wouldn’t want to preserve in a historical archive. At least half of what he said was way off the mark. It made me wonder about how many times I heard a news report and believed it. When I was on the Enterprise, what I read in Time Magazine about our missions was total bunk. That’s when I started not believing the so-called mainstream media. It’s only gotten worse since then.

As a matter of fact, probably at least half of what I’ve written here is bogus.

UPDATE: Reader Megan says that containerships use 20-foot containers routinely. She should know. She deals with that kind of stuff for a living.


Daffy said...

....I've had similar experience, thought maybe it was a roughly parallel universe and it was all my perception wrong; could THEY EVER get it wrong??? i guess the reporters are very busy people; no time for the facts.

Megan said...

The 53 foot containers are used for domestic shipping only. 20' dry van containers are very common on containerships.

Tom Hurley said...

Megan, I KNEW I should have called you first before publishing. At least my last sentence of the post is still accurate.

Megan said...

Cool post though, I still love containerships. Why the heck were they bringing it into the bay anyway? Long Beach wasn't close enough?

Tom Hurley said...

They had already made a port call in Long Beach, so by the time they got to Oakland they were kind of light.

Also, I hear that San Joaquin Valley farmers can fill a whole boat with their produce destined for China, and that's shipped out of Oakland.