Categories: Business, DP World, LondonPublished On: 28.03.2019317 words1.7 min read

50 years after the first British container ship set sail, we have teamed up with P&O Heritage to look back at one of the greatest revolutions in global trade – and what the next revolution could look like.

When Encounter Bay, the first British container ship, set sail 50 years ago this month, her owners, OCL, knew they were pioneers in uncharted waters. But the course they took, would revolutionise the handling of cargo for the next half century and beyond.

Their legacy continues to inspire us; as we look to lead the next logistical leap and deliver smarter trade for all.

Courage & Collaboration   

In the mid-1960s, the future of British liner shipping was under the threat of growing competition from the US and Malcom McLean.  As the inventor of the container, and owner of Sealand, Mclean had a competitive advantage:

“…the USA, led by McLean, had the ball at its feet in front of an open goal.”

The chief executives of four British shipping giants: P&O, Alfred Holt & Co. (Ocean), British & Commonwealth Shipping Co. Ltd., and Furness Withy & Co. Ltd., responded by joining forces to form Overseas Containers Limited (OCL) on 25THAugust 1965.

“The formation of OCL will one day, when our successors look back on it, mark the moment when a new design for cargo liner operations…began to be sketched out”. 

Sir Donald Forsyth Anderson, P&O Chairman, 23rdMarch 1966.

As radical and revolutionary as the move from sail to steam, containerisation called for an entirely new transport system and major capital investment in logistics and infrastructure (including ships, ports, roads, rail and distribution hubs).

Collaboration was critical to the success of containerisation. With some of biggest names in liner shipping in tow, OCL was well placed to lead Britain into the box age.

Containerisation & Controversy

Continue reading this fascinating article on the DP world website here