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Ghost Canyon

NOVA: Ship That Changed The World
(DVD / G / 2021 / PBS)

Overview: Some five centuries ago, a major revolution overturned traditional ship design: in just a few years, ships were transformed from small coastal-bound transports into massive ocean-going vessels.

Once regular trans-oceanic travel became feasible, everything changed.

DVD Verdict: Powerful navies arose and fought for supremacy at sea, while the new ships enabled empire-building European powers to invade and colonize Indigenous lands and exploit their peoples.

How did this transformative change in ship design come about? Scholars and historians have always faced a problem: few wrecks dating back to this crucial period survive, so rough drawings and incomplete records have been their only evidence.

Now, a well-preserved wreck off the coast of Sweden dating back to the era of Columbus reveals new details about the engineering that changed the world.

Here in NOVA: Ship That Changed The World, we recover the sunken clues to this significant new discovery and watch along with awe as all the pieces of the puzzle come together to form a rather fascinating bigger historic picture.

Add to that the updated information that container ships are the work-horses of the globalized economy: although they represent only one eighth of the total world fleet they are essential for the transport of consumer goods around the world.

Indeed, container ships have grown bigger at a rapid pace over the last decades, faster than any other ship type. In one decade, the average capacity of a container ship has doubled. The largest container ship at this moment can carry 19,200 containers, but ships with capacity of more than 21,000 containers have been ordered!

Add to all that there are cost savings of mega-ships, but these are decreasing and might not even be realized. Doubling the maximum container ship size over the last decade has reduced total vessel costs per transported container by roughly a third.

However, these cost savings are decreasing with size; the cost savings of the newest generation of containerships are four to six times smaller than the savings from the previous round of upsizing.

Approximately 60% of the cost savings of the most recent container ships are related to more efficient engines and not to scale. So come join us on this wondrous sea-faring venture into both the past and the present, with a little bit of the future sprinkled in for good luck! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official PBS Purchase Link