Shipping container invention

Published the 17/02/2016

Shipping container invention

Invention du container maritime - CubnerThe container, what a nice invention!

But before knowing a worldwide succes, the container went through a lot of phases



A little bit of history.

The container is an American invention of Malcolm McLean. He invented the process in 1956 when he saw the road transport completely saturated near the ports . So he turned to the sea and bought second hand ships that he transformed to transport truck trailers.

The beginning of a quick ascent!

In the 60s , the US amry gave a boost to the containers . Indeed, thanks (or because ) of the Vietnam War , the army needed important amounts of supplies. They naturally asked for help to Malcolm McLean’s company (Pan -Atlantic then renamed Sea-Land ) to assist them in this task .

Years passed by and the world became curious about the economic interests of the shipping container . Containerization extended slowly but surely on the globe to become what it is today.

In 60 years , the container has become a symbol of globalisation. Today, a lot of our clothes, televisions, computers, or even our pens arrive by standard containers ( often 20 and 40 feet) .


Malcolm McLean, 1956

Malcolm McLean invention du conteneur maritime - Cubner


Some dates not to forget:

  • 1956 : Malcolm McLean loads 1958 aluminum containers aboard the Ideal X, to send from Newark to the port of Houston.
  • 1958 : Pan -Atlantic company develops in Puerto Rico. The company Matson follows them between San Francisco and Hawaii.
  • 1958-1967 container sizes are standardised : the “box” is beginning to conquer the world.
  • 2014 : On 1 January , the world fleet counted 4,976 container ships able to carry 17.3 million containers simultaneously( 20-foot equivalent ) .
  • 2015 : The company CMA- CGM inaugurated the largest container ship in the world : The CMA-CGM Bougainville. 400 meters long for 180 000 containers).
  • 2016 – 2017 : ?

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