Photo by Peter Johnson & Ron McVey
The first of the cellular container ships, the Manchester Challenge, shown here leaving Eastham for Montreal, arrived in Montreal, Shed 70, on November 28th, 1968, to open a new service between Manchester and Montreal. This was the first full containerised service to Canada and offered a five day service with four container vessels, taking seven days berth to berth under normal weather conditions.

The ships were built to carry 500 containers below deck as the maximum size possible for navigating the Ship Canal. The ships were fitted with twin Pielstick 18 cylinder deisels, one of which was shut down each voyage whilst in the Ship Canal and overhauled by a 'flying squad' to eliminate delays.

They were designed to berth at both terminals port side-to, when all engineroom machinery was shut down for maintenance and all power was supplied from ashore. All access to the vessels was via a large ship's side ramp in the engine room, facilitating storing and engine maintenance. This was and is revolutionary.

The vessels were also fitted with bow cameras, Bridge-controlled anchoring, covered mooring stations and slam indicators to allow the fastest possible speed in adverse weather conditions.