Despite its small population, the far-flung Bahamas archipelago enjoys impressive features and history as a maritime nation. The country has one of the world’s leading maritime registries with approximately between 1,500 to 1,600 ships carrying the Bahamas flag, and has a good international reputation in the maritime industry.
The Bahamas is home to the Grand Bahama Shipyard, one of the premier ship repair facilities in the world, and the largest cruise ship repair yard in the world. The Freeport Container Port is a significant transshipment center. The country hosts many cruise ships annually, including the largest cruise liners in the world.
The Bahamas archipelago is awash in maritime history. Native peoples navigated canoes to discover a new homeland, part islands but mostly sea, exploited and usurped by colonial greed and slavers in cargo ships, and trafficked by pirates and privateers in sloops and schooners who plundered with zeal over several centuries.
During global and regional wars and tentative or sustained peace, amidst slavery and colonialism, throughout the industrial age, through the waters of the Bahamas passed slave ships, merchant vessels, naval fleets, modern container ships and state-of-the-art cruise liners.
The moderns who made the archipelago their home, relied on the sea for food, trade, transport, sport, enjoyment and an impressive tourism industry, employing an armada of vessels, ingenuity and techniques to tame and when possible master the winds and the waves. Boatbuilding developed into a vibrant industry.
In the 21st century, the Lowell J. Mortimer Maritime Academy, a non-profit educational institution named in honour of the attorney, philanthropist and entrepreneur, represents a significant step in the country’s history as a maritime nation.