The whole triangular trip occupies from seven to eight months and shows the hitherto unused methods and the con tinuous sustained effort that must be made to get and hold foreign trade.
The question of a full cargo is of the utmost im portance for the line steamer since the possibility of carrying cargo to some other part of the globe, even in case such cargo is available, is excluded. To keep their boats supplied with traffic, the large steamship companies try to develop systems of "feeders." They have, for instance, a direct interest in coastwise traffic. In the United States coastwise traffic is restricted by law to ships of American registry. The Canadian law permits British ships to engage in coastwise traffic and grants the privilege, also, to ships of foreign states which have obtained this right thru British treaties. Foreign states granting coastwise traffic privileges to Canadian ships may also be granted this right in Canadian waters.
The line steamer must leave whether a cargo has been secured or not. In order to secure a steady flow of cargo or of passenger traffic, the company must advertise and maintain ticket and freight offices at both ends of the line, and frequently at places in land. It uses all effective means to promote business. The system of "deferred rebates," is one of those ways. The transportation company agrees to refund a cer tain percentage, say 10 per cent, of the freight charge at the end of a certain period, usually six months, if the shipper will agree on his part not to patronize any other ocean carrier during that period.
5. Cost of speed. Speed is another factor of ex pense. The demand for it is greatest in the case of passenger and mail service. It is expensive. It re quires large high-powered engines which depreciate more quickly than low-speed machinery. They take up more space which otherwise might be used for cargo. The fuel consumption is excessive, which means high operating costs and also another reduction in available cargo space. The coal consumption of a steamer travelling at a speed of twenty-five knots is almost twenty times the amount consumed by a freighter travelling at a speed of from eight to ten knots an hour.
To some extent the greater number of voyages and the higher freight rates which can be charged as a result of this high speed compensate for the greater outlay. The relation between speed and
economy is constantly changing as improvements are being brought about in the construction of engines. The Great Eastern was a commercial failure with a speed of 14.5 knots. Now ships of almost twice that speed are economically possible. As a matter of fact, however, the most economical speed for a freighter today lies in the neighborhood of 12 knots an hour.
6. The mail and express service.—The development of lines with regular scheduled sailings and served by fast steamers has been greatly influenced by the demand for rapid mail service. Government subsi dies are often granted to secure it. The United States pays for the carrying of ocean mail in two ways: first, by a contract based upon the speed of the vessel and the length of the voyage ; and second, by a payment based upon the postage received by the United States for the mail dispatched.
Some of the largest contracts prior to the war were with the American line, The Oceanic Steamship Com pany. An American vessel which carries United States mail to foreign countries receives the full amount of the postage, while a foreign vessel receives only a fraction.
A foreign express service is done by the American Express Company. This company besides having built up a large foreign business of its own, has inher ited the business formerly carried on abroad by the Wells Fargo Express Company and by the United States Express Company. Only small, relatively valuable parcels requiring rapid and safe transporta tion are shipped by express. Advertising matter is frequently sent this way, especially to countries which levy a duty on such printed matter.
The express company issues a bill of lading, or a receipt, which gives a description of the goods, their value, the name of the shipper and that of the con signee. Where a bill of lading is issued, as in the case of large parcels, three copies are usually made. One copy serves as the sender's receipt, the second copy is sent to the express company's agent abroad and the third copy is filed for record.