1960s Era Transport Developments Timeline


  • Bankruptcy of Coastwise Line ends common-carrier steamship service in the Pacific Coast region.
  • Puerto Rico replaces Cuba as American shipping hub in the Caribbean.
  • Malcolm McLean creates Sea-Land Services to revolutionize shipping through containers.
  • The Grace Line first to adopt containers for international routes, e.g., to Venezuela.


  • Intercoastal operators Pope and TalbotLuckenbach Steamship suspend operations.
  • Founded in 1848, American President Lines (APL) launches first container-capable ships, the SS President Lincoln and SS President Tyler.



  • Seatrain abandons common-carrier coastwise trade route between the Gulf and the East Coast.
  • The Postal Service introduces “ZIP Codes” to more efficiently deliver mail as part of a “Zone Improvement Plan.”




  • The first of a new kind of vessel – the O/B/O (“ore/bulk/oil”) carrier; built in Norway, the Naess Norseman was 820 ft long with gross tonnage of 38,000 tons; ship type peaked in usage in early 1970s to carry just about any cargo, wet or dry.


  • Congress creates the Department of Transportation.
  • Sea-Land establishes full containership service in the North Atlantic in April.




  • International Maritime Organization publishes first ISO standards for containers.
  • The magnificent RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (“QE2”) designed by John Brown for the Cunard Line sails from Southhampton on her maiden voyage to New York on May 2; powered by geared steam turbines driving twin screws, she measured 963 in length and 65,850 tons, with 564 First and 1441 Tourist Class passengers; served as the flagship of the Cunard Line until succeeded by the RMS Queen Mary in 2004.
  • Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central merge to form Penn Central (Feb)
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Company (RCCL) founded in Norway.


  • Brookhaven Laboratory physicists Gordon Danby and James Powell patent Maglev, the principle of superfast levitated transportation using superconducting magnets; useful as a system for train transportation.
  • W.R. Grace sells its Grace Line unit (shipping, esp. in South America) after 100 years.
  • The first attempt to standardize the weight of cargo on ships: the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopts the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships. 


  • Fred Smith buys a controlling interest in Arkansas Aviation Sales, the start of Federal Express Corporation, which he incorporated in June 1971 as a small package airline, and locates in Memphis. Takes advantage of the downturn in commercial aviation as well as the niche to fly at night when others did not.



  • Carnival Cruise Line Company founded by Ted Arison who had co-founded Norwegian Cruise Lines in 1966.




  • Seatrain calls its service in Hawaii quits in April, leaving the a near-monopoly in the islands to the Matson Navigation Company.
  • Congress passes the Energy Transportation Act, mandating that 30% of US oil imports come on US-flag vessels (vetoed by President Ford). 


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