Looking back at the shipping industry, a lot has changed between its early days and modern shipping as we know it. From the design of the ships to how items are shipped as well as maritime safety. Drastic changes have been made over the decades, but amazingly, some processes are still intact.
The concept of shipping goods has been around for decades, some saying it has been practiced as far back as the 3rd century bc, mainly because it was safer, faster and cheaper. Goods were packed into sacks, barrels and crates, and loosely stored in tight spaces on ships. This often lead to ships spending more time at ports than at sea due to loading.
Improvements on the safety of crew members on board as well as preventative rules to avoid overloading were implemented in Venice, 1255. Official inspection rules were implemented in Genoa in 1330. In 1653 safety rules were put in place as to the seaworthiness of a vessel, and to latch cargo correctly. Minor additions and rules were added later and adjusted according to changes in the vessels.
It wasn’t until 1965 that a big change in the shipping industry was made, when a man called Malcom McLean decided to stack 58 metal containers on a ship, making it easier to load and unload cargo, as well as protecting the cargo.
From here changes happened fast, Standardised containers were made (the 20 ft container), a year later the first trans-Atlantic shipment was made, with Japan making the first container ship in 1968. This vessel could carry a total of 752 20ft containers, cutting shipping costs by 75%.
Since then container ships grew to the sizes we know today, with about 90% of all goods sent by sea. Ships have never been so technologically advanced, sophisticated and as safe as they are today.
There is no form of transport that will ever match or replace maritime shipping.