Book Review: Ship Knowledge A Modern Encyclopedia

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

by K. van Dokkum Bound hard back & front, 341 pages Published in 2003 by Dokmar, P.O. Box 360, 1600 AJ, Enkhuizen, The Netherlands. (

The book "Ship Knowledge - A Modern Encyclopedia" is basically the adapted and extended English language version of the very successful Dutch book "Scheepskennis" (published in 2001, author Klaas van Dokkum).

In a state-of-the-art lay-out the book's 16 chapters lead the reader in great detail through the multitude of facts related to ships, ship building and shipping. The parts and systems together forming a modern ship from design drafts up to the finished construction including paint systems and legal aspects, are extensively dealt with. The incorporation of clear and to the point drawings, cross-section drawings, system diagrams and many full-colour pictures and, especially its use of a lucid no nonsense style of English, make the book eminently readable for everybody with an interest in shipping. In actual fact the book may be termed as easy reading; leisure material.

The title "Ship Knowledge - A Modern Encyclopedia" well describes the contents of the book. Veritably this is a book that should be found on every true shipbuilder's bookshelf and thus be close at hand for daily use whenever necessary. Questions that crop up like "What is a reefer ship?", or "What was this thing called again? or "What type of systems do they have for that on board?" or "Which party is responsible for this, that or the other" can now be answered within a fraction of the time otherwise taken by asking colleagues, phoning out to "experts in the field" etc. Lots of colour pictures of ships (and offshore objects as well), drawings (GAP's, ship construction etc.) and system schematics and such, each say more that a thousand words and "Ship Knowledge - A Modern Encyclopedia" is full of such material and thereby produces a wealth of information for those willing to see and receive it. In short, this book may actually be classified as an unmistakable asset to anyone seriously involved in the maritime industry. Besides ship designers, shipbuilders, ship owners, ship's crew, ship charters, ship's sales, ship underwriters, ship financers, classification societies etc. this book should be found on the desk of those studying for professional qualifications within the maritime industry (and indeed others industries close to it). In this respect students attending merchant navy colleges, naval acadamies, shipbuilding and marine engineering graduate and post graduate courses may be certain that there studies will greatly benefit from a number of (easy reading) hours spend in this most interesting encylopedia. The book is so well set up with three columns per page and plenty of colourful illustrations that once you open the first page of this book, it reads almost by itself. You will find that the otherwise dreary chapters such as "Laws and Regulations" (consisting of 22 pages) is over before you realize it…and it was interesting too! This is what you call easy accessible material."

The author has done the utmost (and has succeeded well) to produce a contempory book in which shipknowledge has been presented in the form of a modern encylopedia and is now available as such to all prepared to partake of it's valuable contents. Proof of this success is clearly shown the fact that a number of Dutch Technical Colleges and TU Delft have already put this book on their book list for first year students in marine technology and merchant navy education; No doubt other countries will shortly also follow suite as already much interest is being shown from such areas.

And what's more, I am certainly using it myself (for education and (maritime) industry related purposes). It's on my bookshelf (alongside the first Dutch edition of course!).

Jakob Pinkster M.Sc. FRINA Marine Technology, Delft University of Technology

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