Trivia Question 4/26/12 – SS Ideal X

Ideal X56 years ago today, on April 26, 1956, the ship SS Ideal X made her maiden voyage from Port Newark, New Jersey to Port of Houston, Texas, becoming the first ship to do something.


What is so special about the SS Ideal X?


It was the first container ship.


The ship that became famous as the Ideal X began life as a mass-produced T-2 tanker called the Potrero Hills, launched on December 30, 1944 by the Marinship Corporation of Sausalito, California.  It changed ownership and names several times after the conclusion of World War II, but in 1955 was acquired by the Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company of Mobile, Alabama.

The Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company was acquired by a North Carolina trucking executive named Malcolm McLean.  McLean had long complained about the antiquated process of breakbulk shipping.  He thought that shipping virtually the entire truck as a package rather than its individual contents separately would make the process more efficient. McLean calculated that in 1956 loading a medium-sized ship the conventional way was costing $5.83 a ton. Comparatively, loading the Ideal X cost less than $0.16 a ton.

He installed a special spar deck above the main deck of the Ideal X with slots to which he attached the bodies of 58 tractor trailers.  The Ideal X departed from Berth 24 in Port Newark, New Jersey on April 26, 1956.  It arrived in Houston, Texas on May 2, thus becoming the very first container ship.

In 1960, McLean founded SeaLand, a major container shipping line, which was purchased in 1999 by Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company. The Ideal X carried containers until 1965, when it was scrapped.


A total of 32 people checked into the Net tonight and 12 of those got the correct answer to the Trivia Question.  Congratulations to:

  • Cliff – AC6C
  • Khalil – K6FCC
  • John – KD6JEV
  • Kevin – W6KVN
  • Steve – KI6LOV
  • Al – KJ6LPE
  • Ron – K6MSU
  • Gary – W6NVY
  • Timothy – KJ6TIG
  • Leon – AF6TT
  • Louie – AD6UP
  • Murray – WA6USL

Thanks to all who participated in the Net tonight.

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