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See inside a 958-foot cargo ship

See inside a 958-foot cargo ship, from the crew’s living quarters to the massive engine room

  • A merchant mariner captured life at sea on a video tour of a Maersk container ship.
  • The video shows the everyday life of cargo ship crew as they spend months at sea.
  • Second mate Bryan Boyle said workers celebrate hoidays on board with festive meals and community.

A merchant mariner gave a tour of a 958-foot cargo ship in 2019 that showed the intricacies of the hulking freighters that haul 90% of the world’s goods.

In the video, second mate Bryan Boyle records the vast array of machinery that keeps the ship moving, as well as the crew’s and officers’ living quarters on the Maersk ship, which was built in 2006.

Though the video was taken in 2019, Boyle told Insider it provides insight into the lives of shipping crews today.

The merchant mariner said it can be difficult to be away from family for months on end, especially during the holidays, but crew members find ways to celebrate even as they work through Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“I recall a few unique experiences such as singing and playing music together on Christmas since one of the able bodied seaman onboard was a skillful harmonica player,” Boyle told Insider. “Another time we were anchored in Dubai on New Years’ Eve surrounded by many ships. We were counting down to the new year, and then many of the ships started to blow their whistles in celebration as fireworks were being launched from shore in front of us.”

The ship sets out from Norfolk, Virginia, making several stops in the US before heading toward Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work on some interesting vessels,” Boyle said. “I’ve gotten to go to places that the average person wouldn’t even know about. It’s one of the most appealing aspects of the job.”

Boyle said that there’s a thrill to arriving at new destinations, remembering how he spent over a month in Africa on one trip. But the amount of time that crews get to explore new destinations has dwindled over the years, he said, as ships rush to get in and out of ports as fast as possible, and early COVID-19 restrictions set limits to crew excursions.

Entertainment options for the ship’s crew of 20 to 25 people are limited on the cargo ships. Boyle said that workers’ time off can include a mix of movies and games, as well as gym time.

The video shows the officers’ lounge, which has a pingpong table and TV, as well as the general crew’s lounge, which has a poker table. During Thanksgiving, Boyle said he and other officers gathered to watch a football game in the lounge using a satellite television.

Take a look at a view of the crew’s mess hall below.

The video shows Boyle’s living quarters, as well as a movie locker that holds hundreds of titles.

The video also highlights the mix of old and new technology that helps keep the supply chain moving, pairing engine control rooms that look like they belong on a spaceship with a massive gyrocompass.

The navigation bridge provides an unrestricted view of the waters ahead and operates as a space where the captain and officers can man the entire operations of the vessel.

The ship has a massive gyrocompass that helps guide its course.

The first seaworthy gyrocompass was produced in 1908. It operates as a type of nonmagnetic compass that uses a fast-spinning disc and the rotation of the Earth to find geographical direction.

 

The video captures the engine room and the combustion engine that helps power a giant propeller.

Boyle takes viewers on a tour of the exterior of the ship as well, labeling individual parts of the ship and even touring the ship’s lifeboat.

The video ends by showing how the ship pulls up to a dock in Germany — an elaborate process that involves a harbor pilot and several tugboats that bring the ship in from miles out at sea to within inches of the port’s pier.

In the video, cranes discharge containers from the ship. More cranes gradually reload fresh containers before the Maersk Ohio heads back to Norfolk.

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