Malcolm McLean was an American businessman. In the second half of the twentieth century, he was the transportation entrepreneur who developed the modern intermodal shipping container, which radically changed transportation and international trade. Containerization has eliminated the need to handle cargoes individually. It greatly reduced the loading and unloading time of the ships. It led to a significant reduction in freight transport costs and also significantly stopped reliability and cargo theft.
McLean was born in Maxton, North Carolina, in 1913. Its first name was originally written as Malcolm, but later used Malcom in life. When he finished high school in Winston-Salem in 1935, his family did not have enough money to send him to college, but they bought a used truck for Malcolm. In the same year, he founded McLean Trucking company with his brothers. They started shipping between Red Springs and North Carolina.
Before World War II, the idea of carrying trucks on ships was introduced. A luxury cruise ship traveling between London and Paris in 1926, 4 containers to carry the luggage of passengers.
At the beginning of 1950, McLean decided to use Containers commercially. By 1952, he was developing plans to transport his company’s trucks on ships on the Atlantic coast of the USA. But loading the trucks on the ships caused huge losses in the potential cargo area. The original concept was to load only the containers, not the chassis. At that time, the United States did not allow a truck company to have a shipping line.
McLean bought a $ 22 million bank loan and purchased World War II T2 Tankers on January 22, 1956, it took several months to redesign these ships to carry containers.
On April 26, 1956, one of the transformed tankers, SS Ideal-X was loaded from Newark Port and sailed for the Port of Houston, Texas. In 1956, most cargoes were loaded and unloaded by manpower, loading a ship manually was then more than $ 5 per ton. It cost less than $ 1 per ton to load a ship using containers, which meant saving more than 30 times. Container usage on ships has significantly reduced the loading and unloading time.
In April 1957, the first container ship began to operate regularly between New York, Florida Texas. In 1958, McLean started collaborating with many companies. Until 1961, McLean’s operation was profitable and continued to add new routes and buy large ships. In August 1963, McLean opened a new 101-acre port facility at the Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal to handle more container traffic.
During this period, the development of the container market was slow, in many ports there were no cranes to unload and fill large ships. In a tradition-based industry, change was moving very slowly. Moreover, the unions were against an idea that threatened their livelihood.
By 1971, the United States started container shipping to Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand. As the advantages of container transportation set up by Malcolm McLean become evident, its rivals quickly adapted. The world’s leading shipping companies and road transport companies built larger ports, larger cranes, bigger ships, and the container market grew day by day.
Malcolm revolutionized the shipping industry in the 20th Century. Malcolm McLean died on May 25, 2001 at his home in Manhattan as a result of heart failure. Container today has become one of the biggest parts of maritime transport and international trade.