Containerisation celebrates 60th birthday

Containerised shipping has turned 60, after the first seaborne container was transported on board Malcolm McLean’s Ideal-X on April 26, 1956.

The man credited with being container shipping’s true pioneer was Malcolm McLean, a trucking magnate, who used a converted tanker to move the first containerised cargo by sea 60 years ago from New Jersey to Houston.

Four years later, Sea-Land introduced the first transatlantic service, and in 1969, in the UK, Overseas Container Lines launched its first service.

Containerisation enabled the standardisation of port handling equipment, increased the speed of cargo handling and the flexibility of stowage location and unpacking, which together transformed the way manufactured goods were shipped around the world.

Over the last 40 years the compound annual growth rate of global container trade volumes stands at nine per cent, and this year the total box volume worldwide is expected to tip 180 million TEU.

“All in all, containerisation has been one of the greatest facilitators of change in the world economy in the last century,” Clarkson Research concludes.

Happy Birthday containerisation!!

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