It is easy to forget with all the goods and products that we see in the shop, that we are an island. Despite all the air transport and the channel tunnel a massive 95% of UK's imports and exports are transported by sea. Around 50 million people travel to, from and around Britain by ferry each year. The maritime sector - engineering, ports, passenger ferries, insurance and the Navy - is still worth £37bn. So we are fairly safe in saying that the sea is very important to us.
On Friday 18th May just before our Class Assembly Ewan Evans came in to chat about his life as a cook in the Royal Navy and some of the important jobs that the navy does around the world. Most of the Royal Navy's ships have weapons on them and are used to protect the ships that carry cargo. These cargo ships are known as the Merchant Navy they fly the red ensign at the back of the ship if they are British. Next time you see a ship look at the flag it flys and see if you can recognise the country it comes from. (this site may help).
Ewan wore some of his smart No1's a formal white uniform that you would wear at a small ceremony. Sailors will wear different uniforms for doing different jobs. On their uniforms they have badges to show their different specialism, rank and how long they have been a sailor. On their caps they wear ribbons known as a 'Tally' with the name of the ship they are working on written in gold. Ewan had been serving on HMS Campbeltown this is a type 22 Frigate this has a crew of around 250 (Max 301) who need feeding 3 meals a day! It has its own little helicopter on the back too.
Piracy and smuggling are still a big problem today, but the threat of war is always a problem especially when oil shipments are involved. Which is why so many ships are there to patrol the Persian Gulf.
This is currently the worlds biggest ever ship the super tanker Knock Nevis (formerly known as Seawise Giant, Happy Giant, and Jahre Viking.) If you place the bow on Ely Bridge the Stern would be past Aldis at the Entrance to the Park View Surgery, and it would of course squash all the houses along Cowbridge Rd. That is over 3 times longer than a type 22 Frigate and was so big she could not navigate the English Channel let alone Man made canals like the Suez or Panama. She is currently being used as a floating storage tank in the gulf, so the biggest ship in use is the container ship the Emma Mærsk (the fourth biggest ever built, as the other two supertankers were scrapped) she can reach over 25.5 knots (47.2 km/h or 29.3 mph) and can be crewed by just 13 (but there is room for 40). There is a nice article about Global trade and the Emma Mærsk delivering our Christmas presents in 2006
You can find a brief history of the Navy here, or on the Royal Naval Website. You can find out about HMS Campbeltown here. Despite all the development down Cardiff Bay, turning the old docks into lesiure facilities. Cardiff still has a working port. Sometimes warships come in to visit the city too and you may be able to have a look around them.
Cardiff used to be one of the biggest and most important ports in the whole world because it exported coal which was used to power all the steam machines -including ships. When they first thought about building Millbank they discussed using a ship instead so they could train boys to be sailors, such was the demand at the time.