The normally utilitarian K-Line post-Panamax container ships that call regularly in Halifax, usually do not draw much attention. This afternoon's arrival of Chicago Bridge * was therefore not expected to be particularly memorable - probably just another ship some might say.
On paper at least the ship is typical of the type: built in 2001 by Koyo Dockyard in Mihara, Japan, measuring 66,322 gross tons, and with a rated capacity of 5576 TEU. Owned by Almirante Shipping/ West Fortun, and managed by Anglo-Eastern Ship Management of Hong Kong, and flying the Panamanian flag.
As the ship drew near it certainly did seem to be just another of these big, basic, plain vanillla ships, until you looked carefully at the ship's hull. There is not a blemicsh or a mark on it - not a one. I initially put this down to a recent drydocking, but looking a file photos on several shipping sites, she has looked the same in all but one photo - some in 2009, some in 2008 - still spotless!
In this day and age when ship's crews are usually too small to do any but the most elementary maintenance, something else is going on here. Someone must be going over side in most ports and touching up tug scuffs, dock fender smears, anchor chain scars, rope burns and the myriad other causes for paint wear. But not only that, there do not appear to be any dents or bruises! This is remarkable for a ship that has been in service for 10 years and has been in and out of ports hundreds of times.
Therefore I have declared this ship a winner in the Ship Shape category of the Shipfax Photogenic Ship sweepstakes. Congratulations to Anglo-Eastern.
If you have time it is worth taking a look at their excellent web site. Look especially at the corporate movie - some of which is filmed aboard this very ship. Aside from a couple of hilarious attempts at North American place name pronunciations by a very plummy narrator, (and a supposed mid-winter transit of the St.Lawrence Seaway) it does show the breadth of this company. It manages and provides crews for 250 ships for a variety of owners - have a look at a couple of their newsletters too for more on this.
* Foot note: Most K-Line ships are named after specific bridges. Since Chicago is a city of many bridges, perhaps they decided to commemorate all of them. This ship was chartered to Yang Ming Line from 2004 to 2006 and was called YM Chicago at that time, a simpler name change than it might have been had it been named for a particular bridge.