Top 10 Shipping Quotes
At Universal Cargo, we’re always happy to provide shipping quotes; however, today’s quotes are of a completely different kind.
Instead of freight rate pricing, compiled here is a top 10 list of quotations about shipping. Some of the quotes are recent while others are pulled from history as far back as antiquity.
I’d quote Monty Python to say, “And now for something completely different,” but this is completely similar to a blog we posted in 2014 that compiled a top 10 logistics quotes list, which I was inspired to create when I stumbled upon the following words of Alexander the Great:
“My logisticians are a humorless lot … they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay.”
Even though that blog is nearly five years old, it remains one of Universal Cargo’s most popular posts to this day.
Therefore, I thought I’d compile a new top 10 list of quotes narrowing from logistics to the slightly more specific topic of shipping for our readers to enjoy.
Before we get to that top 10 list, here are a few quotes that just missed the cut.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.”
— John A. Shedd
This is a great quote that has been retread by several people. But somehow I get the feeling that it isn’t really about shipping. Plus it’s something of a retread of a much older quote itself. Foreshadowing perhaps?
“The man who has experienced shipwreck shudders even a a calm sea.”
While shipwrecks happen in shipping and it’s hard to cut one of history’s greatest poets from the list, this quote still didn’t really seem to be about shipping itself. That’s something of a theme in this section of runners up as we’ll see with the next one…
“To reach a port, we must set sail — Sail, not tie at anchor — Sail, not drift.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR is a great source for quotes and another person that is hard to cut from a list of top quotes. However, preference is given to quotes that illuminate shipping rather than quotes that use shipping or sailing to illustrate another point.
“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.”
— George William Curtis
Man, this quote was close to making the list. Perhaps on any other day, in any other mood, I may have placed this in the top 10. But not today.
Freight mobility and movement, while not a sexy policy issue, is a highly important one. Capacity constraints and congestion on our nation’s freight rail system create many problems.
— Bill Lipinski
Now we’re talking. This quote is definitely about the kind of shipping we’re looking for. And it was the last quote to get cut from the list. Perhaps it just felt too obvious or not quite catchy enough to crack the top 10.
Enough with runners up. Let’s get to the real list. Here they are, the top 10 shipping quotes:
“I find Maersk fascinating. It is the Coca-Cola of freight with none of the fame. Its parent company, A. P. Moller-Maersk, is Denmark’s largest company, its sales equal to 20 percent of Denmark’s GDP; its ships use more oil than the entire nation.”
— Rose George
Rose George is a British writer who became so fascinated with shipping she decided to travel on a cargo ship to learn more about it. She gave a great Ted Talk about it and is the only person who made this list twice. Oops! Spoiler alert.
“As we look at a future where we’re going to have to double our freight capacity, how do you create a freight system that’s integrated across the country when you have 50 different freight systems that are built one state at a time?”
— Anthony Foxx
Politician Anthony Foxx’s quote highlights the complexity of shipping. And he was only talking about moving freight through our country before adding the complications of international shipping.
“For a lot of arcane shipping reasons, new comics, even digital ones, have a long history of only being released on Wednesdays”
— Brian K. Vaughan
Vaughan is a writer of not only comic books but TV too. His best known work is probably the show Lost. The characters in that show could have used a ship. This quote highlights the surprise effects shipping has that no one would realize.
“I grew up watching my dad scout games live. They played on Saturday. Sometimes they wouldn’t get the films until Monday. Sunday air shipping from wherever the college team was located – Starkville, Mississippi, or wherever the film was coming from. It took two days.”
— Bill Belichick
Anyone at all into football knows who Bill Belichick is. This quote goes along with the previous one in showing shipping’s effects on a vast many details that we wouldn’t even think about in our lives.
“There are few industries as defiantly opaque as shipping. Even offshore bankers have not developed a system as intricately elusive as the flag of convenience, under which ships can fly the flag of a state that has nothing to do with its owner, cargo, crew, or route.”
— Rose George
As spoiled earlier, Rose George appears again. Here she highlights a major issue when it comes to ocean carriers in the international shipping industry: lack of transparency.
“Since Europe is dependent on imports of energy and most of its raw materials, it can be subdued, if not quite conquered, without all those nuclear weapons the Soviets have aimed at it simply through the shipping routes and raw materials they control.”
— Barbara Amiel
Barbara Amiel is a British journalist. Thanks, Barbara, for this sobering thought. Or strategy to utilize, depending on your personal ambitions.
“It takes four months to ship food aid and 40 percent of the cost is in the shipping. People cannot eat shipping costs. We have had people die when there are surpluses in the markets.”
— Andrew Natsios
If American public servant Andrew Natsios’s words don’t speak to the importance of shipping, I don’t know what does.
“Admire a small ship, but put your freight in a large one; for the larger the load, the greater will be the profit upon profit.”
Hesiod was a Greek poet that is thought to have been a contemporary of Homer. Considering megaships’ current rule of the oceans, it seems the more times change, the more shipping remains the same.
“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.”
— Thomas Aquinas
This is the quote I alluded to after that John A. Shedd one in the runners up section. It definitely seems that quote could have been directly inspired by this one from Saint Aquinas.
I may be showing inconsistency in ranking this so highly. It could have easily been lumped in with those other runner up quotes that use ships and shipping metaphorically, but this is so well stated and even if taken literally (which I don’t think is the intention) is full of profundity.
“I never predict freight rates; nobody can do that.”
— Søren Skou
This one is short, sweet, and perfectly describes the volatile nature of freight rates in the international shipping industry. And it doesn’t hurt that it comes from the Coca-Cola of ocean freight carriers, A.P. Moller Maersk’s CEO.
What do you think about the list? Would you change the order or remove quotes from the list to put in other ones that you think I should have included? Let us know in the comments section below.