The Baltimore is a container ship constructed at Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan, South Korea, and christened in 1995. It is German-owned with European officers and Filipino crew. The ship is chartered by Hanjin, the Korean shipping giant. It can carry 8000 containers (twenty-foot equivalent units or TEUs), and flies the Marshall Islands flag. The ship operates between Seattle and the Far East, including Shanghai. It’s a 22 day crossing, and the ship’s owner makes a few passenger cabins available, at €85 per day. There are additional charges, of course, including port charges and “deviation insurance,” which isn’t as interesting as it sounds: It covers the ship’s costs if it is required to go off course to offload an ailing passenger.
The polyglot nature of the ship is typical. The oil rig that blew up in the Gulf of Mexico last June had a similarly multinational pedigree, according to the LA Times:
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico was built in South Korea. It was operated by a Swiss company under contract to a British oil firm. Primary responsibility for safety and other inspections rested not with the U.S. government but with the Republic of the Marshall Islands — a tiny, impoverished nation in the Pacific Ocean.
I booked passage on the Baltimore for early next year. The booking paperwork is in the mail and, in the meantime, I am working on visas for China, Vietnam and the Russian Federation.