Our good Chinese characteristics of business credibility and hard work will be spread further along the maritime Silk Road to the rest of world.”
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 366meter-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
CoscoNetherlands 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.
He started off as an able seaman and was promoted to captain in 1998. “In the past 38 years, I’ve paid the most attention on one thing — transporting cargo safely,” he said.
Gu said his 20 years as a captain have been largely accidentfree, but they had put him in some situations he would never forget.
In 2005, he encountered an extreme storm while sailing an empty ship across the Pacific to Canada. Gu said he was relatively inexperienced at the time, and more reliant on the instrumentation on the ship’s bridge and advice from others.
Captain Gu Longhua (right) works with a Singaporean pilot (center) while steering his container ship into the port of Singapore.
The MV CoscoNetherlands anchors in the port of Ningbo, Zhejiang province.