Imagine yourself as an American mariner during 1996. You are employed on board a modern, 60,000-ton container vessel trading on a transpacific route. Most evenings after dinner, you take a walk around the weather deck for some exercise. You reach the bow of the vessel and stop for a while, pausing near the anchor windlass. The ship is moving ahead at its full sea speed of 21 knots, propelled by a 40,000-horsepower direct drive-slow speed diesel engine. In spite of the size of the ship - 950 feet long and 145 feet wide - and the huge propulsion engine that drives it, the only thing you hear is a persistent hissing, which is the sound of the bulbous bow and stem of the vessel cutting through the calm Pacific water.
Here on the bow, you can't feel the vibration of the diesel engine or the hum and whine of the many auxiliary motors, fans, compressors, pumps, computers, and communications gear that are a routine part of the background noise of every ship under way. Here, for just this moment, you are free to relax with the sea, the sunset, and the rising first magnitude stars before you return to the ship's normal routine.