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All At Sea (In Business)

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  • All At Sea (In Business)

    January the 13th 2011, 20:30 on BBC Radio 4

    It is a long time since Britain ruled the maritime world, and North Sea oil has peaked. But ocean transport is still a vital UK activity and wind and water power are making big waves around our shores. Peter Day takes the helm of a container ship to find out what British seapower means today. (podcast)

    About this programme by Peter Day

    Listen to All at Sea (11/01/2011)

    Without getting too (topically) King James Bible about this, around the coasts of Britain the sea and all that therein is changing rapidly and significantly at the moment. In all sorts of ways.

    Britain's merchant fleet may have dwindled with the coming of those unromantic and utilitarian things, container ships. We may now be connected to the rest of Europe by a railway tunnel.

    But sea transport is still very important to an island nation, and the sea is becoming a very significant resource.

    As real estate, for example, Britain seems to be taking seriously its official commitment to get 20 percent of its total power supplies from sustainable sources by 2020.This had been a family farm for at least 80 years, she told me. But not for much longer.

    In practical terms, that means thousands of wind turbines. The third round of wind farms announced last year is the biggest such project anywhere in the world.

    But where will they be built on this tight little island? They won't, is the answer. Most of them will be offshore, using the surface of the shallow waters close to the coast.

    There will be forests of windmills out there. And a huge new industry is being born along the coast to supply the turbine blades and the support structures and the very expensive cable links which will carry the electricity ashore and feed it to the grid.

    These cable links from the wind farms are almost as expensive as the turbines themselves.

    Blast furnaces

    And some interesting new companies are hoping that the giant international consortia who last year won the rights to erect the wind farms will chose to have the components they need made in the ports around the British coasts.

    The scale of the wind power projects will require large new construction sites. There is no existing capacity to delivery turbine blades and platforms on anything like this scale.

    Visiting some of the ports is an exercise in industrial decay linked to high expectations.

    Many of the smaller ports of Britain have been in a long decline since the coming of the container imperilled their existence. Vast container ships need deep water ports with plenty of room for piling up the cities of containers they load and discharge.

    And the industries such as steel which used to cluster close to the river mouths of Britain have also gone into a long decline.

    At Teesport I looked out on an industrial landscape which had once been the site of dozens of blast furnaces. Now there is one in mothballs. On this historic site the new activity now revolves around two huge supermarket warehouses (called logistics centres, of course) taking in container loads of goods imported from the Far East for distribution across the country.


    Teesport is hoping to add to this new warehouse activity more developments depending on the wind farm bonanza.

    The old ports are inspired by the way Aberdeen and some other places were invigorated by North Sea Oil exploration and production 40 years ago.

    Turbine blade production and cable making and building steel supports for the windmills are industrial activities that need lots of land..and it has to be close to deep wharves where the finished products can be easily loaded for transport to sea.

    The empty miles of docks and wharfage left behind when shipbuilding died are ideal for this new activity. So there is a lot of lobbying going on behind the scenes. Until recently the old ports seemed abandoned by the container age. But now they have a new 21st century role..if at least some of them can convince new companies of the compelling logistics of where they happen to be..and the availability of the almost abandoned facilities that once symbolised Britain's eminence as an international trading nation. ... /20110111/
    Emeritus Admin & Founding Member

  • #2
    Re: All At Sea (In Business)

    Warsash's ship simulator is on the radio in this article with a couple of cadets, and staff interviewed (towards the end of the programme).
    Content is relevant for those involved in container trade and those curious about shipbroking.
    Emeritus Admin & Founding Member