On this day April 26, 1956
First container ship left Port Newark, New Jersey for Houston, Texas when trucking entrepreneur Malcom McLean put 58 containers aboard a refitted tanker ship, the Ideal-X, and sailed them.
What was new in the USA about McLean’s innovation was the idea of using large containers that were never opened in transit between shipper and consignee and that were transferable on an intermodal basis, among trucks, ships and railroad cars.
McLean had initially favored the construction of “trailerships” – taking trailers from large trucks and stowing them in a ship’s cargo hold.
This method of stowage, referred to as roll-on/roll-off, was not adopted because of the large waste in potential cargo space onboard the vessel, known as broken stowage. Instead, he modified his original concept into loading just the containers, not the chassis, onto the ships, hence the designation container ship or “box” ship.