March 31, 2014

Ugly & Essential World of Container Shipping

Maya Jasanoff, New York Review of Books

The Associated Press

In the 1960s, the shipping industry was transformed by the widespread adoption of the standardized shipping container. Developed by American trucking entrepreneur Malcom McLean, the container served as a one-size-fits-all package for goods. These twenty-foot boxes could be packed at the place of consignment (whether a factory, a warehouse, or a person’s front door), hitched up to a truck, driven to the quayside, lifted off the truck by a crane, and loaded directly into their designated places in a ship’s hold—thus eliminating expensive, time-consuming transfers from land transport to port warehouse, warehouse to ship hold. If 13,000 containers seem like a lot to load onto a ship, consider what it was like when every single item within those containers would have to be loaded...

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TAGGED: Containerization, Container Shipping, Globalization, Trade, Piracy, Ports