Source: Maersk/SeaLand.
First Containership, Ideal-X, 1956
On April 26th 1956, the Ideal-X left the Port of Newark, New Jersey to the Port Houston, Texas, which it called 5 days later. It carried 58 35-feet (8 feet wide by 8 feet high) containers, along with a regular load of 15,000 tons of bulk petroleum. The 35 feet unit represented at that time the standard truck size in the United States. This first containership was converted under the initiative of Malcom McLean (1914-2001), a trucking magnate who saw the tremendous potential of containerization, particularly in terms of loading and unloading costs. McLean calculated that in 1956 loading a medium-sized ship the conventional way was costing $5.83 a ton. Comparatively, loading the Ideal-X was costing less than $0.16 a ton. The economic advantages of such a mode of transportation thus became clear to the shipping industry. In 1960, McLean founded SeaLand, a major container shipping line, which was purchased in 1999 by Maersk, the world's largest container shipping company. The Ideal X carried containers until 1965, when it was scrapped.