Thursday, September 30, 2010

Style vs. Profit?

Some weeks ago, Joanne (of The Ship Report) broadcast a series of segments on naval architecture that featured Captain Robert Johnson, a Columbia River bar pilot. 

As he described the evolution of design of bulk freighters, my heart kind of sank.  Maybe I was wrong, but it really seemed that he was saying that prettier lines weren’t profitable because “block coefficient” was the key to shipping revenue.

I had always believed that a sharp bow with rakish lines would be the best way to make headway.  But this appears to not be the case.

Pretty and Not 

The Eternal Athena (foreground) represents (to me, anyway) the look of a beautiful bow.  Fill her holds and send her to sea and the proud, angled prow will be all that you see.  The Blue Diamond (background) seems to represent the best of what the future has to offer.  I’ve seen considerably uglier ships already.  The bow’s profile gets closer and closer to plumb (vertical) as time goes on.

I’m really not looking forward to the day when all the ships plying the river are distinguishable from barges only because they have stacks and a house poking above their afterparts.

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