Captain plays role in Silk Road success story

By Jiang Chenglong | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-13 09:20
Captain Gu Longhua (right) works with a Singaporean pilot (center) while steering his container ship into the port of Singapore. [Photo by Jiang Chenglong/China Daily]

Ships carrying containers on key BRI route are getting bigger

Container ship captain Gu Longhua, 58, has been helming ever bigger ships along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in recent years as cargo shipments boom on the route, part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Gu, a merchant seaman for 38 years, is now in charge of the MV Cosco Netherlands, a 366-meter-long container ship that can carry 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent units, the measure for standard containers.

He has been a captain for 20 years and started guiding ships from China to Europe regularly five years ago.

"In 2013, the ships I helmed from China to Europe could transport 5,200 TEUs," Gu said. "But during the next two years, I captained two 10,000-TEU ships to the Mediterranean Sea, and they were nearly fully loaded on every voyage.

"Our company has arranged for five giant 21,000-TEU ships, the world's largest, to run to Europe every week."

He said cargo shipments have been growing because the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which connects Asia and Europe, has promoted international trade, financing and cultural exchanges.

Gu, who grew up in Shanghai, said he would never forget the moment he saw his first big ship, at age 12.

"I visited my relative's home near the Huangpu River," he said. "That's when a container ship with a displacement of over 10,000 metric tons appeared. It was so big. I just never imagined there could be such a tremendous ship in the world."

Gu said he was interested in the sea, and when he was young he thought being a seaman would give him the chance to see the world. To make that happen, he enrolled in a seamen's college in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, and graduated in 1978.

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