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Today, we connect all corners of the world and port calls happen several times every hour, but it all started with one route and monthly departures in 1928…

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The first Maersk Line route covered three countries; the USA, Japan and The Philippines. China was included very soon, but this route was the only one until after the Second World War.

The service was resumed in 1946 and continued to be managed by the offices in Copenhagen and New York. The Japan office was established in 1948 and from there, new routes into South East Asia were introduced; first to Thailand, then a route going further west calling in Hong Kong, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and The Persian Gulf.

Japan-Indonesia was started in 1952 and in 1958 the first sailings took place on Japan-West Africa and between the United States and West Africa – the latter was abandoned after two years.

Also, a brief attempt was made with a Transatlantic Line in 1947, but as the rebuilding of Europe after the Second World War ceased, Maersk Line withdrew from the route. On occasions, the original Panama Line (USA-Asia) was made into a Suez Line or Around-the-World-Line calling ports in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India and Italy before calling New York.

 

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Toyota Land Cruisers on the Nagoya quay in March 1964 bound for Indonesia.

 

Transport of crude oil cargoes in Maersk Tankers was the main business of A.P. Moller in the 1950-1970’s, at a time when the Maersk Line route network covered the smaller markets of world trade. Maersk was described as “a well-established shipowner but only a modest participant in the liner business”.

That was about to change, and a significant first step was taken in 1968, when Maersk Line – in partnership with Kawasaki Line – inaugurated the Europe-Asia service.

 

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Cargo operations on CHRISTIAN MÆRSK in Yokohama on the Europe-Asia service. Cargo on pallets – one type of unit load – is loaded into the cargo holds. Containers – the new generation of unit loads – will be placed on deck.

 

 The development of the standard container in the mid-1960’s would change – indeed create the opportunity of – world trade.

Our customers in our markets did not request containers at scale until 1971-1972 and Maersk Line had to react. The introduction of containerised services did not have an immediate impact on the network; the original route from USA to Asia was containerised in 1975 and Europe-Asia in 1980. A new Trans-Atlantic container service was established in 1988.

Globalisation gathered momentum after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the conventional break-bulk vessels were replaced by container feeder vessels as ports adapted to containers.

Maersk Line became truly global in 1993 when EAC-Ben Line was acquired. From 1990-1996 P&O and Maersk Line had operating agreements on Europe-Asia, Arabian Persian Gulf and the Trans-Atlantic service. Sea-Land replaced P&O until 1999.

Globalisation gathered momentum after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the conventional break-bulk vessels were replaced by container feeder vessels as ports adapted to containers.

Maersk Line became truly global in 1993 when EAC-Ben Line was acquired. From 1990-1996 P&O and Maersk Line had operating agreements on Europe-Asia, Arabian Persian Gulf and the Trans-Atlantic service. Sea-Land replaced P&O until 1999.

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MAERSK spelled in signal flags – a riddle to introduce the new Trans-Atlantic service in 1988.

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Maersk Line 90 years

Maerskline has been in business for 90 years, from break-bulk to containers. The first voyage was on 12 July 1928. Explore the full story below.

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HOME

Part 1 – Beginnings

1928 saw the initiative that has evolved into today’s Maersk Line.
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PART 1 – BEGINNINGS

Part 2 – Expansion

Today, we connect all corners of the world and port calls happen several times every hour, but it all started with one route and monthly departures in 1928…
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PART 1 – BEGINNINGS

Part 3 – Container

Boxes for the transport of goods came in many forms before 1956, but it widely recognized that containerisation as a concept was initiated when Malcom McLean shipped 58 containers from Newark, New Jersey, on 26 April 1956.
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PART 1 – BEGINNINGS

Part 4 – Logistics

Maersk’s entry into logistics started in 1977, two years after the introduction of the containerized service on the USA-Asia route.
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PART 1 – BEGINNINGS

Part 5 – Special Cargo

Maersk Line has moved special cargo since well before the container was introduced and we still do.
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PART 1 – BEGINNINGS

Part 6 – IT and Systems

From the early 1980’s, MCS (Maersk Communications System) made it possible “to communicate globally.
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PART 1 – BEGINNINGS

Part 7 – Refrigerated Containers

Global reefer trade surpassed 221 million tonnes in the year 2016 with an annual growth rate of 3.2% over the past decade.
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PART 1 – BEGINNINGS

Part 8 – Terminals

In 2016, world container port throughput reached 701 million TEUs. With the top 40 container ports handling almost 60 percent of the world total.
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PART 1 – BEGINNINGS

Part 9 – Growth in the world economy

Today’s trade is global. Since the first sea-borne container transport took place in 1956, the shipping and logistics industry has been one of the main facilitators of the globalisation of trade.
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PART 1 – BEGINNINGS

Part 10 – Branding

The white seven-pointed star on a blue background has represented Maersk since its very formation in 1904. Along with our distinctive blue colour, terminals, vessels and containers across the world have been showcasing our name and logo since the very beginning.

Learn more about Maersk and containerisation