Monday, 7 February 2011


Nearly twenty years ago I did some freelance work for a company that involved manipulating shipping data. Much of my time was spent dealing with vast amounts of information about individual ships held on the Lloyds Register.

As I was clearing out the garage ready for our move, I came across a photocopied sheet out of a Lloyds publication. For some reason I have never thrown it out, and it has survived all of my occasional clear-outs.

The sheet details some of the ship types that Lloyds Register recognise; I had photocopied it as an aide memoire so that I did not need big books open on the desk in front of me.

How many types of ships can you think of? Trawler, oil tanker, tug, ferry, container ship, icebreaker... soon you start to run out of options.

Which is why the list fascinates me: with all of these obvious ship types are many that you would never guess. Things like 'wood chip carrier', 'mining ship', 'seismographic research vessel' and even 'semi-submersible heavy lift tank'. It is a glimpse into another world.

I must admit that the idea of a ship type called 'wine tank' might make me want to become a pirate. You could have one heck of a party with a shipload of Sauvignon Blanc...

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