Worldwide container shipping was a newer development than people realise as it truly began as an industry after WW2 when America’s shipping industry was in dismay. Germany had successfully managed to close down sea lanes and cargo handling prices had gone through the roof at the seaports due to being labour intensive, A solution needed to be found and fast.
Malcom McLean bought Pan-Atlantic 1955 and was looking to merge trucking with shipping and knew to get it to work standardising shipping methods to not only accommodate the ships but trucks were going to be the solution. This is when the idea started to develop for the shipping containers and Mclean brought in engineer Keith Tantlinger to create the first containers. They would need to be not only weatherproof but also theft proof and capable of transferring between land and sea. On land its either onto trucks or railroad trains, the initial problems were more about getting organisations on board that could make the new international standard difficult to operate but it quickly became a huge success.
It was in 1956 Tantlinger altered a refurbished T-2 tanker with 58 x 30ft shipping containers which took 7 minutes to load a container in the Port of Newark. This set the president for others to follow and by 1958 Pan Atlantic was running freight between Puerto Rico into mainland ports. Between Hawaii and California a similar operation had sprung up by Matson Navigation.
It was in 1965 the demand and use of shipping containers overseas seen Port Elizabeth in New Jersey dealing with routes into Europe. It was the containerisation that seen Port Elizabeth rapidly over take New York Authority in International shipping trade for many years.
As the process spread of automating the containerised system it eventually moved into longshoremen’s labour contracts in the mid-60s at ports on both coasts this gave a huge injection to international commerce and the standardisation in 1961 and 1970 were the final steps in creating the stepping stones for the industry we see today.
The first trans-Atlantic container service started in 1966 with company Moore-McCormack Lines who transported mixed freight to Scandinavia, and within the same year also sea – land operations began with Newark, Baltimore and Rotterdam.
More changes came during the Vietnam war period which increased West coast shipping which began regular services in 1965 with military cargo. A year later seen Japan embrace the shipping container automation and a lucrative and highly competitive business between Japan and the U.S. opened up.
The consumerism market that opened up though may be as much a curse as the blessing it became as we are now seeing Western countries importing more than they are exporting which has created the rise of China against all other markets.