Sunrise in the Strait between Indonesia and Singapore, where 735 cargo ships were gathered Tuesday because of a sharp decline in global exports.
The New York Times - SINGAPORE — To go out in a small boat along Singapore’s coast now is to feel like a mouse tiptoeing through an endless herd of slumbering elephants.
One of the largest fleets of ships ever gathered idles here just outside one of the world’s busiest ports, marooned by the receding tide of global trade. There may be tentative signs of economic recovery in spots around the globe, but few here.
Hundreds of cargo ships — some up to 300,000 tons, with many weighing more than the entire 130-ship Spanish Armada — seem to perch on top of the water rather than in it, their red rudders and bulbous noses, submerged when the vessels are loaded, sticking a dozen feet out of the water.
So many ships have congregated here — 735, according to AIS Live ship tracking service of Lloyd’s Register-Fairplay in Redhill, Britain — that shipping lines are becoming concerned about near misses and collisions in one of the world’s most congested waterways, the straits that separate Malaysia and Singapore from Indonesia.
The root of the problem lies in an unusually steep slump in global trade, confirmed by trade statistics announced on Tuesday.
China said that its exports nose-dived 22.6 percent in April from a year earlier, while the Philippines said that its exports in March were down 30.9 percent from a year earlier. The United States announced on Tuesday that its exports had declined 2.4 percent in March. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/business/global/13ship.html
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