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FreightWaves explores the archives of American Shipper’s nearly 70-year-old collection of shipping and maritime publications to showcase interesting freight stories of long ago.

In this edition, from the January 1975 issue of American Shipper, FreightWaves shares an article from the time the shipping industry fully embraced containerization. United States Lines resurfaced with a containerized cargo service, cutting transit time. That took place during the era when containers emerged as the standard mode of fast and efficient international trade.

United States Lines begins container service from Jacksonville using barge feeder service of Merry Shipping Co.

United States Lines resumed service between Jacksonville, Florida, and Northern Europe Jan. 6 with a new weekly containerized cargo service. 

The operation was announced Dec. 1 by William J. Keely, vice president of United States Lines’ Eastern Division, and Richard Harrill, manager of Carolina Shipping Company, local agent in Jacksonville. 

Containers will be ferried between Jacksonville and Savannah, Georgia, on feeder barges using the Intracoastal Waterway. Outbound shipments will leave Jacksonville each week for transshipment to containerships calling at Savannah on Fridays. Import containers are scheduled to arrive in Jacksonville early each Monday.

“We view this move as a major step in our efforts to keep pace with the growth of traffic in the South Atlantic,” Keely said. “This service also enhances the image of Jacksonville as the leading contender for recognition as the key transport center of the Southeast.”

U.S. Lines has maintained regular service between the South Atlantic and Northern Europe since acquisition of the old South Atlantic Steamship Line service about 20 years ago. After the advent of containerization, the breakbulk operation was dropped and fast new containerships of the Leader Class (capable of transporting up to 1,009 containers) were placed in the service from Savannah.

Last October, U.S. Lines resumed direct service from Charleston, South Carolina, on a fortnightly basis. 

Inbound from Europe, the 20-knot ships call at New York and Philadelphia prior to Charleston and Savannah, last port outbound. Transit time from Savannah to Europe is eight days. 

Feeder Service 

Merry Shipping Company of Savannah, an affiliate of Southeastern Maritime Company (SEMCO), has been awarded the tug and barge feeder service between Savannah and Jacksonville. Merry Shipping will operate a tug and barge in continuous shuttle service between the two ports. The barge has capacity for 35 full-sized 40-ft. container units, including some reefers. 

About Feb. 1, an additional barge with capacity for 60 full-sized containers will be available to the operation, providing a weekly capacity of 95 containers in and out of Jacksonville. 

All operations in Savannah will be at the Georgia Port Authority Garden City Container Terminal. In Jacksonville, the barges will dock at Talleyrand Docks and Terminals with SEMCO providing stevedore services. Carolina Shipping Company will assume responsibility for containers after they have been landed at the terminal.

FreightWaves Classics articles look at various aspects of the transportation industry’s history. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter!

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