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Ship's Captains

History

The use of boats for transportation of goods and people dates to Egypt in 4000 B.C. Clay tablets from that era depict images of wooden boats with sails being rowed by oarsmen. The Egyptians transported obelisks by boats, initially on the Nile River and later branching out to the Mediterranean and Red seas. The Phoenicians and Greeks further developed ships for trade journeys and for naval warfare.

As water transportation evolved, ships became more specialized based on their purpose. For example, fighting ships were designed to be long and narrow because they needed to be fast while also having enough space to transport large numbers of fighters. Trading ships had more cargo than crew, and thus were round in design and had high decks so they could handle larger seas. By the middle ages, sailing ships had replaced rowing ships, giving rise to more oceanic navigation by various countries across continents and growth in the shipbuilding industry. Starting in the 15th century, overseas trade and exploration grew and more efforts were made to keep as few crew members as possible on the merchant ships to maximize the profits.

The introduction of the steam-powered boat in the 19th century enabled inland and coastal navigation in the United States. The 20th century saw the growth of large passenger liners as tourist travel increased. These boats had the capacity for large numbers of passengers and crews. For instance, the RMS Queen Mary, which was retired in the 1960s, could accommodate 1,957 passengers and had 1,174 officers and crew members.

Today the global deep-sea, coastal, and inland water transportation industry is a $448 billion business. As reported by the market research group IBISWorld, it consists of 32,662 businesses in cargo transportation and passenger transportation.