Aboard a Cargo Colossus (NYT)

Until the late 1990s, the largest container ships could carry about 5,000 steel shipping containers, each about 20 feet long. The size of container ships has exploded, reflecting their role as the packhorses of globalization. Each year, the maritime shipping industry transports nearly $13 trillion of goods, roughly 70 percent of total freight, according to the World Trade Organization. The Triple-E’s can carry more than 18,000 containers, piled 20 high, with 10 above deck and 10 below. But they can sail only between Europe and Asia, as their nearly 194-foot wide hull is too large to fit into American ports or to slip through the Panama Canal.

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