The experienced seaman and ship designer know jus! what the sea at its worst can do to the structure of a ship. Overwhelmed by the sea is a warning to both seafarer and architect that such unforgiving force must never be underestimated, and may not yet be fully understood. Let us look at a large cargo ship on a winter passage across the North Atlantic from Europe to North America. Her Master will have received regular weather reports and will have plotted his route in an effort to minimize the effects of heavy weather, but such is the depth and frequency of the giant depressions that remorselessly track across the Western Ocean in winter, that it is unlikely that he can avoid their effects entirely. Sooner or later the ship will find itself laboring against the worst that nature can throw at it. It is on such occasions that the complex structure of steel and systems which make up the modern ship will be tested to the limit. While the Master can adjust his speed and course to minimize the effects of the storm, his job is to get to his port of destination without too much delay, balancing the risk of damage against the cost of a late arrival, trusting in his skill as a ship handler and the strength of his ship.
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