Got a question about the largest moving object built by man?

IAmA former ship captain who's sailed the world avoiding pirates, rogue waves and other scourges of the seven seas. I loved it but, not being a particularly brave, well endowed or trained in the art of anti-pirate ninjutsu, I became a landlubber and a maritime blogger after my son was born. Now I write about ships from my corner office at Starbucks.

So last month Maersk invited the world's top 10 maritime journalists to an exclusive tour of the world's largest ship, currently under construction in South Korea. Sadly I wasn't invited but, after reading a couple Kevin Mitnick novels, I managed to finagle a seat on the tour bus!

The ship was amazing, a true giant, and I meet the engineers, naval architects and shipyard workers building her.... and I learned a lot about this ginormous vessel.

I'm willing to answer questions about her or any other ships.

The ship tour:

Ship Photos, Video and Infographics:

The official ship site:


Comments: 703 • Responses: 69  • Date: 

stealthismatt101 karma

How many bags of heroin does your boat hold?

gcaptain139 karma

What, didn't you see Mark Wahlberg's film "Contraband"? There are a thousand places to hide heroin, weapons and people on a ship like this.

jmonty4238 karma

I was going to ask what it's like to have Mark Wahlberg smuggle stuff on your ship.

But seriously, did you ever have crew that would try that stuff?

gcaptain83 karma

Mark's a nice guy but got an attitude when I said the only thing worse than New Kids is a Funky Bunch album ;)

I've certainly heard rumors and had reason to suspect they were true but... no, I've never caught anyone in the act. Like I said, it's a big ship with thousands of hiding spaces... the only way to be caught is to either be really dumb or get stopped on your way on and off the ship.

stealthismatt29 karma


gcaptain65 karma

Thousands of kilos. Hiding vast quantities of anything is easy, you just open the hatch to a void space and drop the stuff in, the only limit is your ability to get the stuff on and off the ship.

kidneyshifter49 karma

Ahh, the ol' Han Solo technique.

gcaptain7 karma

"I use them for smuggling kid. I never thought I'd be smuggling myself in them. This is ridiculous!"

diegojones468 karma

A ship that large almost seem impractical. How many ports are large enough to hold such a big ship?

gcaptain104 karma

Not many... She only plans on calling on 13 ports all in Asia and Europe. She won't be coming to the united states.

Pyro62744 karma

Is making a single large ship more efficient than making a number of smaller ones?

gcaptain111 karma

Yes, but that's only half the equation... It's also that transporting 18,000 containers at once is more efficient than making two 9,000 container trips.

Ozy-dead33 karma

Does it take the same time to load/unload though on per container basis?

gcaptain51 karma

Good question but I'm not sure of the answer.

Zombiesatemyneighbr31 karma

The E-class and Triple E-class container ships currently run the AE-10 line for Maersk that will soon bump to 14 by the time the Triple E sets sail in 20 some odd days. Plans are up for a total of 24 ports of call. It is much easier and less hassle (and ALOT less polluting) to have one GIANT vessel like a Triple E-class when it comes to ship traffic then to have 2 post panamax or 3 panamax sized ships come calling.

diegojones436 karma

And I would imagine at that size and weight, wave height and frequency is almost irrelevant. Also, no Panama Canal.

gcaptain51 karma

Correct and correct.

rrrobbed67 karma

What kind of crew does a ship like that need?

gcaptain107 karma

The minimum crew required by law is only 14 people but Maersk plans on crewing her with at least 20. Shocking considering that a Nimitz class carrier holds more than 5000 people ( Ship's Company: 3,000-3,200, air wing: 1,500, other: 500) and is 67.2 meters (220 feet) shorter in length!

rrrobbed30 karma

How does that break down? (i.e. 3 bridge crew + 3 engineers x 3 shifts?)

gcaptain86 karma

It depends on the ship but here's a common system for crewing a vessel this size:

Top of the food chain are the Captain (in charge of everything) and the Chief Engineer (in charge of the enige room and anything mechanical)

Bridge team: 3 officers (Chief mate, 2nd mate, 3rd mate) 3 lookouts (Able Bodied or Ordinary Seaman)

Engine team 3 officers (1st Assistant Engineer, 2nd AE, 3rd A/E) 3 oilers

Steward's department (in charge of food, laundry, etc) 1 Steward (In charge of ordering food and cooks the breakfast) 1 Cook 1 Assistant

3 DEU's (junior crewmembers who are pulled by any department that needs them)

supermarketgangbang29 karma

Out of curiosity, what do the stewards get paid? (I cook for a living)

gcaptain55 karma

The non-union stewards get paid peanuts and usually have less vacation time than the rest of the crew. I don't know exact numbers but union stewards get decent pay plus can get significant amounts of overtime if the captain approves it (which he usually does if the food is good).

AusSneddo32 karma

80k + Here in Australia, 3mths on 3mths off.

No-Im-Not-Serious33 karma

We're off to a good start, but are you allowed to shoot at pirates if they attack?

5herlock_Holmes91 karma

God no. This is Australia. We don't need guns, we release our animals.

No-Im-Not-Serious15 karma

Seriously, can the chef legally kill pirates if the ship is attacked? A 30% raise and a reasonable risk to my life would be interesting, if not awesome.

gcaptain34 karma

Yes you can certainly defend yourself if they attack... but, depending on the company policy and the laws of the flag state, you may have to use your kitchen knives to do it.

DroppinSomeKnowledge44 karma


gcaptain141 karma

Only one: "She's a beautiful ship alright. Shapely. Seductive. I'm gonna Fly Her Brains Out!"

My favorite quotes as a captain was Steve Zissou's classic line "Hey intern, go plug this in and make me a Latte." (a captain has to have his coffee!)

ZMild42 karma

  • How come these things won't visit US ports? Just no West Coast port big enough to handle them? And if not, why not?

  • I understand these ships are pretty brutal to the environment. Do you see any technology or practices on the horizon that might make them a little less harmful?

  • I was surprised to read there's a shortage of qualified seamen. I would think that would be quickly filled by people from developing countries. Just sayin'.

  • Is this size of ship going to be the new standard to stay competitive on those routes now?

  • A lot of Europe-Asia air traffic is being flown through Middle Eastern airports (or Istanbul), a vast change from even a decade ago. Is there the same shift in sea cargo?

gcaptain154 karma

  • The real problem is not the size of the ports it's that the ports use outdated technology. Ports in China and Europe are highly automated and they can move containers at and amazing rate. American ports are slow because the unions fear that automation will cost their members jobs and because union rules support policies that lead to slower load rates (the longer it takes, the more hours union members rack up. One expert told me that this ship could be offloaded in Europe in 2-3 days but it would take the port of Los Angeles over a week to offload her.... And Maersk can not afford to leave an expensive ship like this one tied to the dock for that long.

brilliantjoe33 karma

Do you think that by trying to avoid automation to save union jobs and provide more union hours, these ports might be bringing about their own demise?

gcaptain40 karma

They can't do more harm to themselves then they already have, so no, I don't think they will demise but they are preventing their own growth.

If we adopted Europe's methods then we would move containers onto smaller ships to more efficiently get the containers closer to their destinations... That would mean two more loads per container for every crane operator which translates to lots more jobs. Of course, it would mean less jobs for truck drivers but this will happen anyway as new ports are currently being built in Mexico.

gcaptain85 karma

  • These ships are brutal on the environment on a per ship basis but on a per container basis they are much more efficient than any other form of transport (e.g. Trains, trucks, etc). So the environment would benefit significantly if containers were moved across this CPU try (through the canal) then aboard trucks and trains. This is called "short sea shipping" and is how European cargo gets moved.... But it's something lobbyists have fought for years.

gcaptain29 karma

  • Yes, expert believe this will be the new standard in 10 years but.... Only time will tell.

  • No, the sea routes have not changed much the last 10 years.

censoredmm31 karma

I've been a long time follower of your site, and I'm glad to see you doing something like this. My question is: when do you think the other carriers will debut ships of equal size?

gcaptain31 karma

Jus last month China Shipping put in an order for five ships of this size and e others are likely to follow. The only thing that's holding them back is the fact that shipping rates are currently at a historic low.... but this will change as (let's hope!) the economy continues to improve.

gcaptain64 karma

This ship is costing Maersk $190 million to build but they signed the contract before the economy tanked. Today you could commission a yard to build this ship for around $150 million.

Archchancellor26 karma

As much as you are allowed to discuss, what was your company's standard procedure for dealing with pirates, and did you have weapons or other ways of deterring them? Do some companies hire private security firms, like Blackwater?

gcaptain40 karma

Well the last time I sailed as Captain was 3 years ago and many ships still were not allowed to carry any weapons or hire any private security firms. Most companies still discourage the crew from bringing aboard their own weapons but do allow the use of private security firms.

lucky_whiplash18 karma

Not allowed, this is really surprising! Considering the dollar amount of the cargo on the ships, it's shocking that security firms are not allowed. Not allowed by whom, I wonder?

So as recently as three years ago, multi-billion dollar cargo ships had less security than Disneyland?

gcaptain26 karma

I ment to say that, yes, today security teams are allowed on ships.

Yes, three years ago, most didn't have more than a set of handcuffs and a batton... Much less then Disney!

(Weapons were banned by company policy, insurance policies and various organizations)

GISP43 karma

Im a former pirate hunter in the Gulf of Aden @ HDMS Absalon....
How do you guys view the efforts by the taskforce stationed in the middleeastern and asian seas, and what improvments could be made?

gcaptain10 karma

The task force is dong an excellent job, especially in the gulf of Aden, but they have remained mostly ineffective off Somalia's east coast simply due to the fact of the ocean, and the distance these pirates are willing to travel, is so large.

Private security teams aboard the ships and simple precautions like straining razor wire around the gunwales is proving to be the most effective deterrent.

sternford13 karma

Could you use the boat to ram the pirates' dinghy?

gcaptain16 karma

Yes but only if the dinghy holds it's course...

elikdawson25 karma

What was the most exhilarating experience you had as captain?

gcaptain82 karma

Probably the rogue wave which, luckily, I only witness first hand on one occasion. It was in 2002 and the water was dead calm and we had jsut rounded the southern tip of Africa when I caught the thing from the corner of my eye. I don't know how big it was but I was about 40 feet above the waterline on a 500 foot ship and, just before we hit it, I was looking up at the thing. Scary as hell.

The good news is that we only hit it due to my relative inexperience at the time and incompetence as a navigator because the location of these things is well charted, known among scientists and easily avoided... so I don't plan on running into one again.

KidQuantum32 karma

Er.. the location of rogue waves are well charted???

gcaptain64 karma

Yes they are fairly well charted on the latest versions of the charts.... but it's only been in the last 10-15 years that we have known anything about them.

Now there are 2 basic types of Rogue Waves, those that form in the middle of giant storms and the Freak type that seem to come out of nowhere.

A book called The Wave by Susan Casey is a great read if you're interested in learning more.

[deleted]-3 karma


gcaptain12 karma

I don't have time to find the link right now but, if you go to NOAA's website and find chart #2095 Cape St Blaize... you will see the warnings.

vxx25 karma

How is it to handle a big ship like that? How much do you have to plan everything before, to make your ship react at the right time? How long does it take to make a full stop?

gcaptain52 karma

Yes everything has to be very well planned. We won't know exactly how long it takes this ship to make a full "crash astern" stop but 15 ship lengths is fairly typical of a large ships so... 6000 meters or 20,000 feet.

But the ocean is wide open, so very little maneuvering is needed once the ship reaches open ocean. The difficult part is maneuvering in port but stopping distance is not much of an issue for two reasons: 1) Ships move slowly in port 2) They are escorted by powerful tugs which can stop them quickly and help them turn "on a dime".

surleetoo70 karma


xenokilla27 karma

AMA please!

gcaptain14 karma

I agree!

liderudell18 karma

How did you get your start?

gcaptain32 karma

I went to SUNY Maritime College in the bronx... a state university that gives you a college degree and a license to drive really big ships.

Metalhed6917 karma

I took a cruise recently from Tampa to Grand Cayman, then Mexico and back to Tampa. I spent a good amount of time staring over the side hoping to glimpse fish, dolphins, whales, anything. Other than 2 flying fish, I saw nothing. Nothing at all. Is there a trick to seeing stuff, like a certain time, or in front or behind the ship? Ever see any cool fish or anything like that?

gcaptain72 karma

In my experience their are only two factors to seeing those things: luck and location.

The key is to ask the crew were are the spots they most often see marine life... then ask them what time the ship will pass those locations. If they won't tell you then you best bet is to watch during times you are in sight of (but no too close to) land.

My favorite are the sea turtles! You can be over a 1000 nautical miles from the closest point of land and see a turtle slowly paddling alone. They are really slow... and it boggles my mind how (even with favorable currents) they can travel so far on their own.

kampfy317 karma

Do you guys use scooters to get around the ship?

gcaptain44 karma

No but scooters are the preferred method of transport in most of the large shipyards where the ships are built. On ships larger than 1000; feet you will often find a couple of bicycles on deck for getting to/from the bow.

egglestone16 karma

Is this the biggest machine a single man can "drive"? How does it feel to be behind the wheels?

gcaptain37 karma

Sure is... unless you find a time machine that can travel a long time ago to a galaxy far away.

It feels awesome, like having a super power, the only downer is that the ship's wheel is rather small and puny.

Wommie16 karma

Any close calls with pirates?

gcaptain31 karma

Their are two basic types of pirates... those who steal stuff and run (found around the world but most prevalent in the Strait of Malacca). These ones typically only steal stuff you have left exposed on deck (they love brass firehose fittings and thick hawsers).

The other, more dangerous, type of pirate are those in Somalia who take over and ransom the entire ship.

Personally I have seen a few of the former pirates but none of the latter but I have friends who've seen both. The closest I've come to the dangerous type of pirates was as a blogger... I called the bridge of the Maersk Alabama (via skype!) to verify the story of her capture before it broke in the news.

Zorca9915 karma

How would a pirate board a ship as tall as yours? Sorry if this is a dumb question.

gcaptain15 karma

Grappling hooks and rope ladders but the pirates prefer to board slower ships with lower freeboard (the distance deform the water to the ship's deck)

WNW314 karma


gcaptain30 karma

I am a bit young for the gig but there has been a massive shortage of qualified mariners int he last 5-10 years as the economies of china and india have expanded. When I first joined it was rare to find a captain under the age of 45... today many are in their early 30's.

Nathaniel is a strong name but my wife vetoed anything too nautical so we named him Jack.

jimbossa13 karma

With more ships of this size being built and only ever increasing cargo shipping, do you think the Suez and Panama canals will be widened to accommodate the extra width?

Have you seen the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

gcaptain31 karma

The Panama Canal is, right now, being widened.. But it still won't be large enough to accept a ship of this size.

The Suez Canal, however, is already plenty wide (and deep!) enough for this ship.

No.... Most of my time has been in the Atlantic and Indian oceans but I have seen plenty of trash. It's still rare to see a large patch of it but is certainly depressing when you do!

vantigs13 karma

I'm fascinated with ships like this and how they operate. You said in another question the minimum crew on one of these ships is at least 14, what does everyone do all day? How much of the day is structured with actual duties and how much downtime do you get? Are there any recreation options other than playing cards or reading?

gcaptain34 karma

The captain works 8 hours (mostly behind a desk) but is on call 24/7.

the rest of the crew typically work three 4 hour shifts. Two of those shifts are standing watch (on the bridge, engine room or in the kitchen).. The third shift is doing routine maintenance and inspections.

Lots and lots of time for card playing, reading or watching the months worth of stuff you downloaded via pirate bay..

Whatoncewasisnt29 karma

So some could call you...a pirate

gcaptain34 karma

The MPAA certainly would ;)

vantigs11 karma

Thanks for the reply, appreciate it.

Ever had anyone sneak onboard for a free ride? If it happens and they are discovered what is the protocol?

gcaptain15 karma

I have found stowaways before but we caught them before we left port.

The protocol for finding one after you leave port depends on your company policy and the laws of the port you are heading to. At a minimum you must give hem a bed and food then notify immigration prior to arriving at your destination. From there you must follow the orders of the immigration officer who will usually fine the ship and launch an investigation.

Ghost1708816 karma

So making them walk the plank isn't an option?

gcaptain3 karma

No but I hear rumors that it still happens since there is a lot you "could" get away with if the closest police station was 1000 miles away, you had a week to clean up the evidence and if you were floating directly above a 15,000 foot deep trash can filled with man eating sharks...

cybergibbons4 karma

Do your engineers not just do day work?

gcaptain7 karma

It depends on if the ship has an automated engine room or not but, You're right, on this ship they do.

wlodarczyk11 karma

i am looking to become an onboard reporter for the volvo ocean race. Its a year long, i was wondering how do you stay mentally healthy for extended periods of time on the ocean?

gcaptain13 karma

I've only done a limited amount of offshore sailboat racing and I'll tell you it's a completely different animal than sailing aboard a big ship.... so I can't help you out here. But my website, gCaptain, does have a sailor on staff. His name is rob and his contact info is in the "Team" section of the site (lineked to in the footer).

I will say that you are a braver man than I am Gunga Din! The worst storm I've seen was when I navigated a 1000 foot oil taker from valdez alaska.... and I wished I was on a larger boat! I don't know how the guys from the Deadliest Catch do it.

defaullt11 karma

As someone from a family of shipbuilders, I can indeed confirm that you have a very impressive boat. :)

I also have friends who operate on ships like these in the South Pacific. They have plenty of great tales. Who knows, maybe I'll end up on one one of these days.

So yeah, question time: what's the fastest the boat can go when fully loaded? And how long does a round trip take? Say from Singapore to Rotterdam?

gcaptain13 karma

Her top speed is 23knots (26 mph) but Maersk plans on sailing her at 20. The first voyage will begin in Shanghai, and she will sail from China to Spain in 20 days.... so round trip would be 40 plus 3 days to offload her.

jimbossa10 karma

This is completely off topic. If the world entered into a war on the scale of WWI and WWII, do you think it would still be effective to employ the convoy tactics of prior wars or what strategies would merchant navies have to adopt?

gcaptain16 karma

Good question and, to be honest, I don't know the answer because most of us commercial mariners are civilian and the navy admirals don't like sharing classified information (or war studies) with us.

But if I had to guess I would think that convoys would be dangerous because a large mass of ships is easier to spot on satellite images and easier to pick up on a submarine's sonar.

egglestone9 karma

Can I take her for a spin?

gcaptain18 karma

Sure but you'll have to get on line after me... unfortunately Maersk didn't offer me the Captain's job during the tour and, after they read this, it's unlikely that they will ;)

unfortunatehatsize8 karma

sailing in my 22 foot boat in the stockholm archipelago, I've learned to avoid floating cities, though not at ocean going speeds. what do you think of this book:

gcaptain11 karma

You're right, ships are best avoided from a distance. I've heard good things about that book but haven't read it myself. And while I hate to plug my own website we a have a great forum thread where ship captains give advice to sailors. Search google for "Crossing Situations with Sailboats gcaptain forum" to find it.

unfortunatehatsize4 karma

thanks! a guy told me that a biggish passenger ferry can come to a full stop in it's own length in the archipelago (speed limit 12 kt), how does that compare to your ships? how much fuel would that take?

gcaptain6 karma

I misplaced the tank capacity but here's a picture of the individual ship "mega-block" sections. 31 of these sections (some not so large and some, like the bridge, look totally different) are placed side-by-side to build the ship. 2 of these massive sections are fuel oil tanks that will be completely filled with heavy fuel oil... so, the answer is, a lot!

n2hvywght7 karma

This is probably a rookie question but what are the economics of a ship this sized being nuclear powered? Short term I assume it would be a bit more expensive but wouldn't it be cheaper in the long term?

gcaptain9 karma

Yes, the economics work out in the long run but construction and decommissioning are both very expensive. Then you have unexpected problems like labor disputes (what i the proper pay considering the danger) and port calls (some countries, like New Zeeland, ban all nuclear ship).

But if you want to learn more about this, I suggest you pic up a book about the "n/s savannah", the only nuclear powered commercial ship ever built in the US.

xenokilla7 karma

I've heard the value of the cargo a ship like that can hold is in the billions, true?

gcaptain16 karma

I am not sure of the exact figures and Maersk wouldn't tell me (much of the information about what is in the containers is kept secret by Maersk for the privacy of their customers) but they did say that, if a Triple-e class ship with 18,000 containers were lost, then it would be the largest marine insurance claim ever.

Clasikrocker57 karma

What goes through an average captain's mind in really rough seas? Is it like, "I'm a badass captain, and if I keep my cool, I've got this," or "Oh shit, I really hope I make it out of this one?"

Videos like this are what prompt my question:

gcaptain21 karma

Well, you have to instill confidence in the crew so outwardly you say "I'm a badass captain, and if I keep my cool, I've got this," But, as long as everything's well secured and there are no signs of structural failure, then all that's really going through your mind is "F me, I wish I was home surfing Reddit!".

GuybrushMonkey7 karma

ever played hide and seek with the crew???

gcaptain24 karma

No but I played "hide from my boss" plenty of times when I first started out ;)

runtmc7 karma

I recently read a great story in the New Yorker about a ship that transports iron-ore from Siberia to China - and their journey. Was a great read, I couldn't put it down. I respect your old profession.

gcaptain8 karma

That was a great article. Very few journalists get it right but Keith Gessen did a great job with that one!

Here's the link for those interested:

BeerHug6 karma

As a captain, how much of your time awake is actually spent doing something ship related? I can't imagine there being too much needing to be taken care of if you're on a month long run from Asia to Europe.

Does it pay well?

Which ports are the coolest?

Is there a shipping version of a trucker's lot lizard?

gcaptain16 karma

A decade ago you would be correct, there isn't too much that needs to get done during a month long run but, the invention of satellite Internet means that today's captain has access to the Internet, Skype and email. While this sounds good (and mostly it is) it also comes with the problem of micromanagement..... The shoreside managers love to fill any free time with paperwork. So, in short, today's captain stays rather busy.

The graduates of the college I went to, are better paid than those from Harvard, Princeton and Yale... So yes, the pay is good. Captain's typically ,are $150k to $250k and, if they are lucky enough to get a pilot job, can earn over 1/2 million per year in the United States.

I have many favorite ports but, unfortunately, I visited most of them during my free time and on my own dime. Today ships, even ones of this size, can be offloaded in a couple of days so their is no time to get off and do anything more than get a quick bite to eat. Another problem is that modern ports are usually located in industrial districts on the far outskirts of the city.

Yes, most ports have plenty of lot lizards... We just don't have any special names for them ;)

SolidCree6 karma

How much does a ship that big Bend and twist, on a calm day also stormy day?

gcaptain25 karma

Ships are solid in calm weather but you can often feel vibrations from the engine room (even if it's on the other end of the ship).

They bend a lot in heavy weather. The first major storm I was in was aboard a 1000 foot tanker and I watched as the bow twisted one way, and the stern twisted another, as she hit a wave. I called the captain up to the bridge and he said "Twisting's a good thing, it means that the steel isn't brittle. But if she stops twisting then grab a lifejacket and run to the lifeboat."

shortbushero6 karma

This may be a bit random but, I'm a sailor trying to accrue sea time to earn my Merchant Mariner's license. What are the chances of me being able to volunteer for a crew position on one of these ships?

gcaptain5 karma

If you are American then your going to have much better luck getting the Coast Guard to accept your seatime if you sail on an American flag ship. This ship will fly the Danish flag.

lshiva6 karma

I know that some cargo ships rent out cabins to paying passengers. Have you had any experience traveling with passengers? What's it like having a passenger on a working ship?

gcaptain13 karma

No, I haven't been on a ship that accepts passengers and this ship, the Maersk Triple-e, doesn't have any accommodations for passengers but... the second largest containership does!

From the CMA website: "The CMA CGM MARCO POLO includes 5 double modern cabins of 20m2 each, a lounge with TV equipment, a library, a fitness room and even a swimming pool."

You won't be traveling in luxury but I'd still highly recommend it... booking passage on the Marco Polo would be an experience that you'd never forget.

crawf1216 karma

Any advice for a young cadet joining the MN in sept? (bulk carrier)

gcaptain9 karma

My best advice is to work on many different types of ships during the first few years of your career. Too many people get pigeoned holed on one type of vessel and get bored after decades at sea... it's better (and easier) to discover what type of ship fits you best before you get stuck in one career track.

dchurch420035 karma

I'm a cadet and I'm doing my training exclusively on Bulk Carriers. Do you think when I qualify this will prevent me from working on other types of ships?

gcaptain8 karma

Yes, it will restrict your options but not until you reach the level of Chief Mate,

cool_tool5 karma

How long are you out at sea for a typical run?

gcaptain14 karma

I'm not sure of Maersk's policy but American sailors (and most sailors from the western world) typically work 3 or 4 months per "hitch" then have the same amount of vacation time (3/4 months). But most of the ships are run by Russians, Filipino's and Chinese sailors who typically work 6-9 months per hitch.

AusSneddo5 karma

I presume this is g captain from youtube? If not I appoligise however I feel the need to thank you for your tutorials which have helped me in my studies (going for 2nd Officer next year). I was wondering how you feel about the MLC and if you think it will vastly improve life on board ships? Also, how do you feel about the push for minimum manning and the industries biggest problem - fatigue. Thanks for reading!

gcaptain5 karma

Yes, this is the same gcaptain...

The MLC is too complicated a topic to get into here but, I agree 100% that minimum manning levels are a big problem.

This ship has a minimum manning certificate (the minimum number of crew required to operate the ship) of 14... while the I think it should be, at least, 24.

freemarket275 karma

Is this largest ship Korean designed as well as Korean built?

gcaptain5 karma

The design was a joint effort between Maersk (Danish) and DSME (korean)... but I'm told that the majority of the design took place in Korea.

The ship was put together in Korea but 40% of the massive sections which make up the ship's hull were constructed by a DSME subsidiary in China.

dog_in_the_vent4 karma

You quit being a sea captain to be a blogger?

How can you support your family by blogging? I always considered it a hobby more than a primary source of income.

Can we have a link to your blog?

gcaptain5 karma

I launched my blog,, while I was still working at sea and for the frist three years I did both jobs. Then the BP Oil Spill happened and I signed a deal with Harper Collins to write the book on that tragic event. By that time the blog was doing very well and, combined with the book advance, I was able to quit my "day job" as captain.

Today, 6 years after the blog was launched, my salary is still below what I was making as a captain but I love to write, especially about ships, and enjoy being home every day for my kids.

WindRacer3 karma

So where and how do I get into being on a ship for a living? I'm already done with college, what other schooling do I need hypothetically ?

gcaptain6 karma

Many people have asked and answered this question on our forums (at but, if you want to be a captain, the traditional route is to attend a 4 year maritime academy.

rat_farts1 karma

That is NOT going to fit through the Panama Canal, mister!

gcaptain1 karma

Sorry, I though I made that clear.

DeeMore1 karma

Something I have often wondered about, how do you deal with a storm in something this large?

Does radar work well enough that a majority of time you can avoid a storm?

gcaptain1 karma

Yes radar can see the storm but they have a maximum working range of 48 nautical miles (55 miles)... so by the time you see it on the radar it's too late to get out of the way.

All ships get free weather charts from NOAA via a High Frequency radio "weatherfax machine". Many ships also subscribe to weather routing companies that send high definition charts via satellite and have meteorologists on staff who advise the captain on the best way to avoid a storm.

Jayumz1 karma

If you could describe your job in 5 words, what would they be?

gcaptain5 karma

freedom beauty power loneliness fear... But most guys I've worked with would replace one of those with a thick dollar sign ;)

optkk0 karma

On the environmental and running costs on these behemoths: they're costing upwards $150 million, why not deck them out with solar panels that would cover the topmost layer of containers? With a surface area of that size I imagine a fair amount of energy could be harnessed.

gcaptain3 karma

That's a good idea, and the concept is already being tested aboard the car carrier "M/V Auriga Leader"... but, on container ships, cranes pluck the containers off the deck, so any solar panels would have to be removed each time the ship docked in port. This sounds simple to do but on a vessel this size, the panels would be massive and difficult to move.

There are a bunch of radical designs out their including, my favorite idea, using kites to help power ships. Here's the article I wrote in 2010 on the top ten green ship designs:

VJ2512-4 karma

Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

gcaptain7 karma

I'll take the duck ;)