Container Shipping – Celebrating its 60th Year!!!

This year, celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Container Shipping on 26th April, 2016.

Even before inventing the Container Shipping, for many thousand years, mankind has shipped goods across the sea, from one land to another. But the process was not easy, as on today. The goods were loaded and unloaded by the individuals, in barrels, sacks and wooden crates from the land transport to the ship and back again on arrival of the vessel were a real slow process. However, this was the only known way to transport the goods in ship until the second half of the 20th Century.

However, 60 years ago, back in 1956, Mr. Malcolm Mclean used a converted tanker to move the first containerised cargo by Sea, from Port of New Jersey to Port of Houston. It opened to a land mark invention by connecting each and every corner of the world and increased the trade and commerce via sea route.

One year later, M/s Matson Navigation Shipping began its container shipping in the Pacific, carrying 20 containers from Alameda to Honolulu. The First Ship specifically designed for transporting containers, The Gateway City, made is maiden voyage on 4th of October, 1957 from Port Newark to Miami. It required only two gangs of dockworkers to load and unload, and could move the cargo at the rate of 264 tons an hour. Short later, The  Santa Eliana  operated by Grace line, became the first fully containerised ship to enter the foreign trade when she set her sail for Venezuela in January 1960.

It was between 1968 – 70, that an ISO regulation for the shipping containers was decided. It shall be interesting to the people outside the marine sector to know that all commercially used shipping containers have a serial number, just like a number plate’s identification for the Motor Vehicles. The Serial number for the shipping container is made up of 4 letter prefix and a seven digital number. The first three letters signifies the owner, the next letter is the category of the Container which is followed by a six digit serial number and finally a check digit. And there is a mathematical formula that works out the check digit for each shipping containers.

The two most important and most commonly used container sizes today, are the 20 foot and 40 foot lengths. The container sizes need to be standardised so that the containers can be most efficiently stacked, one on top of the other and that the  ships, trains, cranes at the port can be specifically fitted or built to a single size specification. As above said, ISO works to set the standard sizes for all the containers, globally. Shipping containers are also available in variety of types in addition to the standard dry cargo containers often referred to as the special equipment. These special containers include open end, reefer, flat rack and many more.

Let us all celebrate together the 60th Year of Container Shipping!!