Shipping has been part of trade for thousands of years. Global trade has taken place for hundreds of years. Today, shipping and logistics play a part in everybody’s lives – it is said, that most people own something that has passed through the port of Shanghai.

Innovation and technology keep changing our world. Our customers’ world has changed from trade between a few markets to a globalized world where headquarters may be in one part of the world, production facilities in another and brands are sold everywhere. In this process, the shipping and logistics industries have become facilitators of trade – we create opportunities for our customers.

A.P. Moller - Maersk was established in 1904, in the midst of the second industrial revolution. The steam engine had replaced sail, the steel hull had replaced wood and the telegraph ensured fast communication between the customer and the shipping company. Soon after, the diesel engine enabled the design of larger vessel and even more regular services meeting the demands of industry; bringing raw materials to the factory and finished goods to the market.

Liner shipping is about offering regular service between a range of ports. Maersk Line’s first service between the USA and Asia was started in 1928; the ships called ports in the USA, in Japan and in The Philippines, and later China. First on a schedule with monthly departures, later every two weeks. One route and only a few ships.
Maersk Line advert 1932
Leaflet advertising the Maersk Line service between the USA and Asia in 1932 – including the opportunity for passengers to enjoy the passage at a reasonable price.

After 1945 and building on the growing world economy, Maersk Line resumed the original service between the USA and Asia and expanded in South East Asia, into the Middle East and West Africa, sometimes combining those with an around-the-world service.

The main trades of the world were dominated by the former colony powers, protecting their market shares from “cross-traders” – shipping companies like Maersk, opportunistically fighting into new geographies; from 1968 when Maersk Line entered the Asia-Europe trade.

Maersk Line Asia services 1955
Building on a strong presence in Japan, Maersk Line expanded into the up and coming markets of South East Asia.
"What we want to achieve is that people know us, like us, will explore their problems with us, and will come to us, when anything transportation-wise arises." - Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, c. 1960.
Clifford Maersk loading
CLIFFORD MÆRSK at the cross-roads of international trade; a combination of pallets with break-bulk cargo and the new containers are being loaded (Japan, early 1970’s).

In 1966, when the first American 20-foot containers arrived in Europe and radical changes in the transport of goods were about to happen, the Maersk Line fleet consisted of 44 break-bulk cargo vessels. A few vessels were nearly 20 years old, most them bought in the 1950s and some less than five years old.

The container revolution expressed: the rule of thumb figure was that one container ship replaced five conventional vessels. That unprecedented efficiency was first introduced on the main markets (USA, Asia, Europe) and Maersk Line had to adapt. Based on customer requests, we made the decision to invest in cellular container ships, containers and equipment in 1973; the first containerized service was started in 1975.

When you look at the inventions or innovation of the last 100 years…the really low-tech invention of the container has done more for global trade than anything else.

Søren Skou, CEO of Maersk Line, 2012.
Maersk Line soon won in the market and by 1993, when we made the first acquisition, Maersk Line established itself as the world’s largest container carrier. Political changes sparked by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 made globalization possible; Maersk Line was in 40 countries in 1990 and in more than 100 countries ten years later.
"Without the container, the global village would still be a concept, not a reality, because manufacturing would still be a local process." - C.C. Tung, CEO of Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), 1997.
Chastine Maersk feeder
To support the hub-and-spoke networkconcept, a series of geared feeder vessels were deployed to serve markets wherethe ports were not yet container terminals. CHASTINE MÆRSK entered the fleet in1991. 
With acquisitions of Safmarine and Sea-Land in 1999, P&O Nedlloyd in 2005 and Hamburg Süd in 2017, Maersk Line remains the largest ocean container shipping operator – moving more than one million containers every month. 
Today, our fleet of around 740 ships call 343 ports and terminals in 121 countries; on average, a Maersk container ship call a port every six minutes – somewhere in the world.
Suez Canal transit
Moving world trade, from end to end, 24/7. On any given day, four Maersk vessels transit the Suez Canal, moving goods to the world market.

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