We have just now returned from the Netherlands with more than 4,000 images made with the purpose of documenting the arrival of goods into Europe. Read more and watch the first pictures here.
Den 3. marts 2009
Bananas do not grow in the supermarket. They mainly grow in South America. Nevertheless, most people take it for granted take they will be able to pick up a bunch of bananas for their breakfast or for the lunchbox every single day. Imagine the number of objects in your home that were not produced near your home, or even near your country. What is the country of origin of your mobile phone, your winter jacket, your running shoes, your hoover, your calendar, your new handbook on running, and the sweet pineapple in the bottom drawer of the fridge?
Onboard the ‘Maersk Kolkata’. Every single day, thousands upon thousands of tonnes of goods arrive in Europe, and a significant part of it enters Europe through the port of Rotterdam.
We have just returned from the Netherlands with more than 4,000 photos of the port of Rotterdam, the place where many of these products have entered Europe. We will now begin assembling our photos to create an exciting slideshow documenting the arrival of goods in Europe and the subsequent distribution. You can, however, already find some of the photos on this page.
The port of Rotterdam is one of the world’s largest and busiest ports. It is called the ‘Europoort’ and it is constantly being enlarged. This port sees the daily arrival of several colossal container ships transporting absolutely astonishing amounts of goods that need to be redistributed quickly and efficiently. Our photo documentary focuses on the ingenious and fascinating system that ensures that the cardboard box bearing number 782, located in the back of container 15, is shipped to the right customer within the shortest possible period of time. This task requires the cooperation of very many people who all have their specific jobs to do.
Sales are down for the car industry, and new cars accumulate at the Europoort.
Taking to the Sea
The idea for this photo documentary came about last year. During one of our courses in photography we happened to discuss the subject with Lars Koch-Sølyst who then mention that he works for the Rotterdam branch of Maersk. We have cooperated for several months, paving the way for this assignment for which we needed to obtain a series of permissions. Ordinarily the Europoort is strictly off limits. The port area stretches for almost 50 kilometres and consists of several large terminals that are being managed by different companies. Each of these companies officially approved of our presence and for that we are very grateful.
Casper boarding the Maersk Kolkata. Photo by Lars Koch-Sølyst
Our photo documentary begins at sea where we come across the cargo for the first time. We set to sea with the pilot boat and proceed to board the ‘Maersk Kolkata’ a containership with a length of more than 300 meters. Climbing aboard the deck of a containership at sea is absolutely not a walk in the park. The Greek captain received us before we were given a tour of the engine room where the four-stories-tall 77,000 Hp engine thrusts the ship forward through the sea. We are given the opportunity of following the approach of the harbour from the bridge, entering the harbour is, by the way, a very complicated affair.
This throttle gives you access to 77,000 Hp
Once the container ship has successfully berthed, the task of lifting off the cargo begins.
This job is performed by gigantic cranes. The containers are placed at the terminal from where they will be transported on by train or by lorry. The process is incredibly fast and efficient. During this assignment we were allowed to visit one of the largest cranes in the world. An elevator takes you up through the legs of the crane, the last meters you will, however, have to climb up a ladder.
The goods are subsequently transported directly to the customer or to vast stores in the immediate vicinity of the port. We were allowed to ride on one of these long goods trains (almost 700 meters) to visit one of these stores where a great number of people are employed with the purpose of tracking and distributing goods as efficiently as possible.
These huge cranes operate both day and night around the year.
The KNRM and Safety
The job of transporting heavy goods from the sea to the shore is not without its dangers.
Everywhere we went safety procedures were strict. Nevertheless, when so many people are working will occasionally happen. KNRM is the name of the service that handles rescue operations when there is an emergency at sea. For this reason they are also part of the story when you want to explain why we are able to buy bananas from our local supermarket.
Don't go sailing with the KNRM if you have a tendency to seasickness. Casper’s ability to concentrate was put to the test during our nightly boat trip cruising at 35 knots.
The rescue personnel are tough guys who will set to sea even in waves of up to 12 meters in height. They operate specially outfitted and very sturdy rescue vessels. We were allowed to go along with them for a nightly navigation exercise and for a rescue exercise by daylight. This has resulted in a series of really good photos that we look forward to displaying in our next slideshows.
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