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Route; 1: Port of Southampton→ 2:Greenock→ 3:Southampton→ 4:Port of Singapore→ 5:Port of Shanghai→ 6:Port of Los Angeles→ 7:Port of New Jersey→ 8:Santos, Brazil→ 9:Hong Kong→ 10:Port of Yokohama→ 11:Laem Chabang, Thailand→ 12:Southampton
Ports; Red pog.svg Destination. Blue pog.svg Transhipment

The Box or BBC Box (BIC code: NYKU8210506) was a single ISO intermodal container that was tracked by BBC News between September 2008 and April 2009, as part of a project to study international trade and globalisation. [1] The Box was fitted with tracking equipment and painted in a special one-off livery. [2]



The tracking project was launched on 8 September 2008. [1] The project tracked a standard 40-foot-long (12.19 m) shipping container as it was transported by its owner, Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) shipping line using intermodal freight transport with various cargoes. An on-board GPS unit tracked the Box's location and this was used to update a map showing the current location and previous route. If the container's GPS or communications signal was obstructed (such as having been stacked too far inside the ship's hold), the ship's own GPS location was used to manually update a map. [3] The tracking unit suffered technical problems during December 2008. [4]

The Box was painted in a special BBC paint scheme and was named after the book The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger , which covers the effects of containerisation. [1] The project was assisted by the Container Shipping Information Service.

Following the end of the project in 2009, the shipping container was donated by its owner, Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) to a charity to be turned into a soup kitchen. [5]


The box at Television Centre, London in November 2009 BBC News - The Box.jpg
The box at Television Centre, London in November 2009

The box started off empty, travelling to its first destination under the BBC branding. The first cargo was a consignment of whisky from a Glasgow-based bottling plant to Shanghai, China. On arrival in Shanghai, the Box was met and reported on by British school pupils on a trip to China. [6]

from Southampton Maritime, England to a dry port at Coatbridge, Scotland (by rail, behind Freightliner 66594 NYK Spirit of Kyoto )
to Paisley, Scotland (by road)
Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky
from Paisley via Greenock, Scotland (by road)
via Port of Belfast, Northern Ireland, to Port of Southampton (on board Vega Stockholm)
via Suez Canal and Gulf of Aden; reloaded at Port of Singapore, to Port of Shanghai, China (on board Copenhagen Express)
Tape measures, cosmetics, and gardening products for Big Lots
from Port of Shanghai via Japan and Pacific Ocean to Port of Los Angeles, United States (on board NYK Starlight);
via New Jersey (by rail)
to Pennsylvania (by road)
Ink, spearmint flavouring, additives, and polyester fibre
[7] [8] from New York, (on board Iwato, IMO9106807, formerly Eagle I)
to Santos, Brazil (by sea)
Monosodium glutamate and auto parts
from Santos via Cape of Good Hope and Singapore (on board Aquitania, IMO9178288, Callsign A8HJ6)
reloaded at Port of Hong Kong to Port of Yokohama, Japan (on board NYK Clara, IMO9355408, Callsign 9VFW9)
Various (consolidated cargo)
from Yokohama 15 August 2009 (on board Ratana Thida 230, IMO9117129, Callsign HSAG2)
to Laem Chabang, Thailand (expected: 23 August 2009)
Tinned Catfood
25 September 2009 Lat Krabang, Bangkok, Thailand, Due to arrive Southampton, United Kingdom 21 October 2009

Later arrived in Southampton on 22 October at around 3 am, unloaded with crane L, being driven by Lee Harfield, the same driver who had loaded it when it left Southampton.

GPS tracking stopped on 2009-04-04, shortly after passing Mauritius.

A 2007 book, Around the World in 40 Feet; Two Hundred Days in the Life of a 40FT NYK Shipping Container, written by Richard Cook and Marcus Oleniuk, detailed the journey of another NYK container. [9]

Related Research Articles

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Container ship Type of cargo ship

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Port of Hong Kong

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  1. 1 2 3 Jeremy Hillman (8 September 2008). "The Box takes off on global journey". BBC News . Archived from the original on 8 September 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2008.
  2. "BBC NEWS | Special Reports | The Box". Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  3. "Follow the BBC container". Royal Institute of Navigation. Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2008.
  4. "The Box: Latest location". BBC News Online . 2 November 2009. Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 11 December 2008. Unfortunately, owing to some fiendish technical problems with the Box's GPS unit, this map will not update until mid December when repairs can be made.
  5. "Lessons learned as the Box returns". 4 November 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  6. "Dereham pupils' China trip". Dereham Times. 22 October 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  7. "The Box: Latest location". BBC News . 2 November 2009. Archived from the original on 12 January 2009. Retrieved 18 January 2009. The Box has left New York for Santos in Brazil with a cargo of household goods. The Box spent Christmas in the United States ... owing to continuing technical problems with the Box's GPS unit beyond our) control, we will only be able to make sporadic updates to this map.
  8. Duffy, Gary (10 February 2009). "Trade woes as the Box arrives in Brazil". BBC News. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  9. "The BBC container departs from Greenock". The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2008.