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Two guys, some cargo ships and one audacious idea

Luis Elizondo (right) and John Robert (left) haven't worked in the cargo shipping industry before, but they've studied it feverishly for the past four years. And they think they've come up with a game-changing idea.

Their thinking: Why not look at cargo ships the way we look at rail cars and tractor trailers? Rail cars get decoupled from their engines and trailers get decoupled from the tractors that pull them. Why can't ships' hulls -- in a similar fashion -- be decoupled from the superstructures (wheelhouses) that house the crew?

Their vision is a port that cuts down dramatically on wait times for ships to unload their cargo, and is turning around crew quickly and putting ships out to sail in a matter of hours, not days.

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This year, Elizondo got a patent for the idea, and he and Robert formed a company called Never Ship Empty. They're about to start pitching it to leaders in the industry. And they're embarking on a feasibility study with the University of Houston to test out how efficient the new process could be for a port.

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They'll have to persuade a lot of skeptics. But if the numbers and efficiencies hold up, we may be looking at a possible new way that the cargo shipping industry can go about its business -- thanks to these two guys from Maryland and their audacious idea.

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