Home' Ships and Shipping : October 2009 Contents CHANGING PLACES
The remarkable story of the
Hong Kong Shipowners
By STEPHANIE ZARACH
It is an interesting experience to review a
book where the reviewer knows personally, or has known, a
number of the principal subjects. This is the case here.
There are three, perhaps four, places in the world where ship
owning is regarded as an honourable, respected activity. Where
ship owners are looked up to and where ship owning is a passion
rather than simply a commercial activity.
They are Norway, Greece and Hong Kong with Singapore being the
"perhaps". This book could only be published in one of these places.
The Hong Kong shipping industry, from a Chinese perspective,
at least, has only existed for about sixty years. Prior to that all
significant shipping in the region was carefully owned and
controlled by various colonial powers, particularly Britain.
This fine book shows how, thanks to the bravery, enterprise,
innovation and persistence of a number of, mostly Shanghainese,
entrepreneurs, a huge industry grew rapidly in a once out-of-the-way
place. That Hong Kong is now one of the world's top two or three
shipping centres speaks for itself.
Their enormous commercial drive has seen most of the Hong
Kong shipowners expand into other industries, not always marine
related. Shipbuilding, banking, property development, tourism,
mining, media and manufacturing have all benefited from their
drive. They are global players.
It is an exciting and inspiring story that has been well told here.
Well illustrated and beautifully presented.
Available from the Hong Kong Shipowners Association.
STALIN'S SLAVE SHIPS
Kolyma, The Gulag Fleet,
and the Role of the West
By MARTIN J. BOLLINGER
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, as is well known, was
one of the world's worst monsters. An amazingly
effective but utterly ruthless ruler, the death toll
for which he was responsible is surely insurmountable.
This fascinating book tells of one of Stalin's typically inhumane
projects in which the United States played an unwitting
supporting role. It involved the relocation of about a million
forced or slave labourers to the gold mining gulag of Kolyma in
The unwilling passengers aboard the US built ships of the
"Gulag Fleet" suffered appallingly. This little known story has been
very thoroughly researched by the author.
As many as one hundred and forty thousand prisoners of a total
of a million are estimated to have died in the Kolyma Gulag or in
their journey to or from it. A strange, sad but fascinating footnote
to Stalin's brutal history.
Available from the Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, USA. Web: www.nip.org
A Colour Portfolio
By DAVID L. WILLIAMS
and RICHARD de KERBRECH
Perhaps a more accurate sub-title
would have been "British Coastal
Vessels of the 1930's to 1970's". The ships described, therefore
are generally small, British and no longer trading.
This does not make them any less interesting. This is a fine
collection of fascinating vessels going about their business. Every
one is accompanied by a clear colour photograph. Each has a
succinct specification and a brief biography.
Sadly, few of the ships and very few of their builders are still
with us. This book very effectively reinforces the rapid rate of
change that is common to the shipping industry.
A very interesting "passing parade" of British coastal cargo ships
and working craft such as dredgers has been captured here.
Available from Ian Allan Publishing, Hersham, UK.
Web: www.ianallanpublishing.com or
DLS Distribution Services, Braeside, Australia. Web: www.dlsbooks.com
Their Design, Weapons and Equipment
By ROBERT F. SUMRALL
The Sumner-Gearing class destroyers
provided the backbone of the United
States Navy's surface fleet for a quarter of
a century from 1943. The author served in eight of them. He
knows them very well.
Designed for rapid and economical construction at the height of
World War II, the Sumner class ships were designed to cope with
enemy aircraft. Their sisters, the Gearing class, were longer. Both
classes were large, at the time of their conception, for destroyers.
They were both very flexible in terms of armament and equipment.
Good looking, efficient and versatile ships, the Sumners and
Gearings were built in large numbers and built to last. Some were
still operating after more than fifty years.
This highly detailed and exceptionally well-illustrated history
describes them well.
Available from The Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, USA.
The United States Navy in the
By WILLIAM R. BRAISTED
This is the companion volume to the
similarly titled book covering the period
Equally carefully researched and just as
important, the Naval Institute Press is to be
congratulated for re-releasing it 37 years after its first publication.
Extensively researched and documented, it is probably even
more valuable now than when first written in 1966. Its primary
theme was the influence of the US Navy on American foreign
policy in the period described.
An important and still relevant sub-theme was the description
of the US Navy's preparation for what it saw quite early as the
inevitability of war with Japan.
While a lot of contemporary thinking about Japan was of the
wishful kind, there were enough "hard heads" connected with the
Navy to ensure that a realistic approach mostly prevailed.
Given America's recent diplomatic and military misadventures
in the Middle East, a re-examination of these books by "the powers
that be" would be timely. A re-examination, too, of China and
other Asian nations' concerns about modern Japan could also be
rewarding on the same basis.
Available from Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, USA. Web: www.nip.org
THE HISTORY OF STENA BULK
Innovation & Performance
Edited By ROBERT HERMANSSON
A big, beautiful, high quality book about a
high quality company.
Corporate histories are often fairly tedious
"ego trips" that are not usually well written
or photographed. This one is different. It
presents the 25 year history of the Stena Bulk part of the longer
established Stena Group of Sweden.
It is an encouraging and stimulating story. It proves that a focus
on quality, environmental sustainability and all round good
corporate citizenship does not have to come with a reduction in
profits. Stena Bulk is a very clever company that is highly
profitable but still manages to do the "right thing" with the world.
There are, of course, many other shipping companies that are
also good corporate citizens. The fact is, though, that Stena Bulk
very much practices what it preaches. One of its slogans is that:
"Oil should always travel first class!" This fine book shows how
seriously the Stena Bulk people regard that.
Available from Breakwater Publishing, Göteborg, Sweden.
For all the latest in maritime books, museums and art, visit www.bairdmaritime.com
SHIPS AND SHIPPING October 2009 37
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