Taiwan’s Evergreen Group celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday. The group founded by Dr Chang Yung-Fa owns Eva Air and Evergreen Line, the world’s seventh largest boxline.
The anniversary was celebrated at the Chang Yung-Fa Foundation, home of the charity set up by the Evergreen founder. Chang passed away in January 2016 aged 88.
Born in 1927, the son of a seafarer, Chang began his maritime career at the age of 14, working for Japanese line Miname Nippon Steamship’s office in the city of Keelung in northern Taiwan. Taiwan at the time was under Japanese control. Chang would remain very close to Japan throughout his life, showering yards there with massive orders.
After World War II, he joined the seagoing staff of a local shipping company as third officer. His subsequent career was spent with various local companies and he progressed through the ranks to captain.
In 1961, Chang and some friends jointly established a shipping company and, having helped this company to develop, he decided to branch out on his own, establishing Evergreen Marine Corporation on September 1, 1968 with just one secondhand 15,000 dwt bulker, Central Trust.
Over the next four years, Chang built his fleet up to twelve, running them empty when necessary to convince his customers his services were regular and reliable. Within a year, he had expanded to the Middle East. Within three years, Chang was dispatching Evergreen ships to the Caribbean.
In 1975, Chang realized that containerisation was the way forward. He built four advanced S-type container ships and launched his US East Coast service. Fifteen months later, he added the West coast of the United States to his network. Europe followed in 1979.
By 1984, he started his most ambitious service yet- two 80-day round-the-world services, one circling the globe in an easterly direction, the other westward. Departing every 10 days, the 20 G-type container ships he employed had a capacity of 2,728 containers each and could travel at a speed of 20.5 knots.
By the turn of the century Evergreen was the second largest container shipping company in the world, a position it has since relinquished in the much consolidated container segment. Nevertheless, with more than 1.1m slots it remains a big player and has plans to grow further. Last month the line put out a tender to take 36 boxships on long-term charter. The 36 new vessels in the carrier’s pipeline will boost Evergreen’s orderbook to 74 ships, totalling 502,000 teu (43.8% of its existing fleet), the largest orderbook of all carriers.