The History of The Maritime Industry: How Container Shipping Changed The World

The History of The Maritime Industry: How Container Shipping Changed The World

Container shipping. It is the backbone of the global economy, moving $4 trillion worth of goods every year – from clothes and food to medicine and heavy machinery. How did we get here, exactly? 

According to Ancient Maritime History, the first boats are presumed to have been dugout canoes, used for coastal fishing and travel thousands of years ago. Next came the sailboat, invented by Austronesians. Merchants realized that transporting goods via the sea was cheaper and faster than on land. It took one idea in the mid-20th-century to revolutionize the maritime industry and change the world…

A Timeline of Events by The Wall Street Journal

1950’s – The Invention of The Shipping Container

  • American Truck Driver Malcolm Mclean revolutionized the industry by stacking 58 metal boxes on a ship from New Jersey to Houston. Prior to this, dockworkers transported goods in sacks, barrels, and wooden crates.
  • The metal shipping containers protected the products and truck beds and freight trains could take them away without repackaging. 
  • The international standardization of shipping containers began. 

1960’s & 1970’s – Transatlantic Shipping Began

  • Moore-McCormack started the first transatlantic container service.
  • Cargo could now be moved from purpose-built vessels to rail and roads in massive volumes, cutting transport costs by at least 75%.
  • This led to the emergence of global shipping behemoths, like Denmark’s Maersk line and China’s Cosco (Both Maersk and Cosco utilize reMARK’s email software).

1980’s onwards

  • By the 1980s, around 90% of manufactured goods were containerized and transported across the world.
  • Globalization began as ships transported goods from the East to the West and vice versa, making stops at different ports along the way. 

Today, the Maritime shipping industry continues to grow. Container ships are now as high as the Empire State Building, and they can transport more than 20,000 containers each.

What’s in store for the future? Electric shipping! Get ready for all-electric container ships to become mainstream within the next decade. 

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