One of the greatest advantages of sea freight is its versatility, and shipping companies take full advantage of the benefits of containerisation in order to provide efficient transportation services for almost any type of goods almost anywhere in the world.
The general rule is that if it can be legally shipped from its start point to its intended destination and all of the paperwork is in order, anything that can fit in a container can be transported anywhere it needs to go.
This inevitably leads to some truly unusual freight journeys and deliveries, both in terms of method of delivery and in terms of the object itself, which only serve to highlight the versatility of freight companies to make sure customers get the shipping services they need.
When people think of the United States and of New York specifically, they will inevitably think of the Statue of Liberty, the mighty torch-bearing Libertas signposting to the tired, the poor and the huddled masses that yearn to breathe free that they have reached America.
Quite a few people know that the original design of the statue was a gift from France to the USA. designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and became a representation of the two countries and their close ties to each other.
What is far less well known is that it was initially built in France by a team that included Gustave Eiffel, the creator of the Eiffel Tower. Once it was completed and the torrid delays on the statue’s pedestal in New York were resolved, it was disassembled and its pieces were loaded into 214 crates.
These crates were loaded onto the steamship Isére and shipped from Paris to New York before the statue was reconstructed on the other side, where it stands to this day.
From a then-modern symbol of international friendship to a commemoration of Imperial battles, Cleopatra’s Needle was one of three Ancient Egyptian obelisks gifted to the British.
The problem was that they were so huge and heavy that they were effectively impossible to transport from Alexandria in Egypt to London with the shipping technology available at the time, and the British Government refused to pay to try.
It took over six decades for a solution to be found and for Sir Erasmus Wilson to foot the considerable bill.
The solution they found was to build a gigantic iron cylinder known as the Cleopatra around it and roll it via a complex set of chains and levers into the sea, where it would be turned into a makeshift boat towed by the steamship Olga, at least until disaster in the Bay of Biscay.
Eventually, it was relocated off of Spain’s northern coast and the Anglia steamship took it the rest of the way.
It was not the most sensible journey and whilst the Cleopatra looked like a submarine it was far from seaworthy, but it ultimately made it, and Cleopatra’s Needle has stood on the Victoria Embankment ever since.