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25 British Shipping

tonnage, total, tons, vessels, trades, countries and figures

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25. BRITISH SHIPPING. To an island people, and especially to a nation which has necessarily to import four-fifths of the wheat it consumes, and fully one-half of the total amount of its food from countries beyond the sea, a large and efficient mercantile marine is a vital need. To such a nation, from a na tional point of view, the shipping and shipbuild ing trades must be the most important of all trades.

At the present time the shipping trade is not only the most necessary, but in point of magni tude, it is the greatest of British trades. It is impossible to state with precise accuracy its total volume in terms of money, but a careful and cautious calculation estimated the earnings of British ships in international trades, for the carriage of cargo alone, $450,000,000 per annum. If to this sum be added the earnings of the passenger and mail services, and of the coasting vessels at home and abroad owned and controlled by British subjects, the total, in the opinion of those best qualified to judge of the question, cannot be less than $600,000,000 — an amount greatly exceeding the entire prod uct of the largest British manufacture, that of cotton, which is estimated at $450,000,000, and is about equal to the total gross revenue of all the British railways, Deducting a small per centage for the port dues and charges of the ships in foreign ports, the whole of this sum is distributed among British industries. Un like the cotton manufacturer who must pay away half his total receipts for his imported raw material, the British ship and her engines are built of British materials in British ship building yards, the officers, engineers, and more than four-fifths of the sailors are British sub jects; the vessel is repaired and provisioned in British ports, is coaled at home, and generally abroad with British coal, and insured by British underwriters. It will be seen that British shipping is emphatically a national industry. About one man in 36 of the population is di rectly employed in some capacity upon the sea, but those indirectly employed in the trades ancillary to, and created by, the shipping in dustry are many times greater.

The latest pre-war returns issued by the board of trade, those of 1914, give the total tonnage of the merchant vessels registered under the British flag as 14,168,274 tons net register, of which 12,415,204 tons belonged to the United Kingdom, and 1,753,070 to the self-governing colonies and other British possessions. Of the

British tonnage, 12,403,231 tons consisted of steamships, and 1,765,043 tons of sailing vessels, that is to say 93 per cent of the tonnage of the shipping of the United Kingdom is that of steamships. The number of vessels (1913-14) registered in British ports was 39,592. These figures are calculated in tons; the °gross° tonnage of British shipping was over 20 millions before the war. It is impossible correctly to appreciate the value of these figures except by comparison with those relating to other nations. A mere statement of total tonnage, however, is an incomplete statement of relative commercial efficiency. The best authorities calculate three tons of sail as being equal to one ton of steam, the latter at the low speed of 10 knots per hour. Whereas 93 per cent of the tonnage of British shipping is that of steamers, about one third of that of other countries consist of sail ing vessels. Further, an analysis of the char acter and speed of the relative fleets gives still further proof of the superiority of the British marine. A high shipping authority, the editor of the Shipping World (of London). after long and careful research made and published as accurate and impartial an estimate as it is possible to make of the comparative efficiency of the British and foreign mercantile fleets. Taking a 10-knot steamer as a unit, and add ing and deducting from tonnage in propor tion to the departure from this standard of speed, to obtain the potential carrying power, he finds that the potential carrying power of British shipping in 1905 was represented by the figures 16,445,000 against 13,061,000 for that of all other countries combined; while, if steam tonnage alone is taken, the figures for potential efficiency for the United Kingdom, and all other countries taken together, were 15,834,000 and 11,555,000 respectively. In 1917, according to the same authority, about half the ocean-going ships of the entire world were sailing under the British flag.

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