APL Honored For 160 Years

Global container shipping line APL turned 160 years old Oct. 6. The company was honored by the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association at its ninth annual Maritime Heritage Awards.

"Our first ship sailed from New York for San Francisco on Oct. 6, 1848," pointed out Ron Widdows, CEO of APL's parent company, Neptune Orient Lines Ltd (NOL). "One-hundred-sixty years later it's my privilege to wish happy anniversary to the men and women of APL who keep us at the forefront of the shipping industry—and to thank the customers and business partners who support us so well."

Starting in 1848 as the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, APL has a long history of industry firsts, said Widdows. They include:

  • The first rail line across Panama—a precursor to the Panama Canal;
  • The first regularly scheduled trans-Pacific service;
  • The first post-Panamax vessels, which drove trade to the US West Coast;
  • The first widespread use of double-stack rail cars, developed by APL;
  • The first 45-, 48- and 53-foot ocean containers; and
  • The first day-definite, guaranteed delivery of US imports cargo.

APL's predecessor company began life as a US West Coast mail carrier during the California Gold Rush. In 1867 the world was brought closer together when the carrier launched the first regularly scheduled ocean service between San Francisco, Yokohama and Hong Kong. This legacy led to APL's leadership in the trans-Pacific today, says the company.

APL currently operates 15 regularly scheduled services connecting Asia with the US. Ten of those services call at West Coast ports in California and Seattle. Five others reach the East Coast through the Panama and Suez canals.

The company points out that while its roots are in the US, it has become a global organization with operations in the world's major trade lanes. The 1997 merger of APL with Singapore-based NOL created a world-scale business, which today operates not only a global container shipping company, but also a global top-10 Terminals business and the APL Logistics supply chain services unit.

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