Honoring a great man by re-purposing and renaming GulfQuest…

Honoring a great man by re-purposing and renaming GulfQuest…

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November 6, 2016

Honoring a great man by re-purposing and renaming GulfQuest…


Ted Burnett

As a resident of Mobile, why not tell the rest of the Malcom Purcell McLean’s story? GulfQuest comes up well short of honoring him and his revolutionary accomplishment. The United States is lined with maritime museums on all three coastlines plus along the Great Lakes. The reason GulfQuest is a five-story building is to accommodate McLean’s idea of containerization while giving visitors “a walk through a ship” experience. The museum makes the claim that Malcolm came up with the idea while working and living in Mobile. I’m not so sure that’s true. After all, his first ship, an experiment, left the Port of Newark, NJ where it arrived at the Port of Houston, TX, in 1956.

Had GulfQuest’s focus been on something other than Malcom McLean’s idea then naturally the building’s size and budget-busting cost would have been much smaller and lower and more in-line with other maritime museums around the country. The irony and hypocrisy are that Mobile rejected McLean’s new idea for using cargo nets or bulk handling for many more decades. The Alabama State Docks had only one container crane well into the 2000’s before adding a smaller more portable one. Only with the construction of ThyssenKrump’s steel mill, in Calvert, and later Airbus did the state make a serious investment in containerization. However, it came long after the world’s major ports had already embraced it.

Maybe GulfQuest could be re-purposed and renamed after Malcom Purcell McLean, now there’s a story to tell and a life worthy of a museum. Just look at what the world had to say and did upon McLean’s death (see below). He was a giant that was cut out of this museum to make way for kid’s games. He deserves better than that. He was a genius! His idea deserves that level of recognition here in Mobile. GulfQuest’s board of directors, its Executive Director Tony Zodrow and the consultants at Watermark Design got it all wrong. More shoddy work produced in Mobile. What would Malcom have to say about GulfQuest closing after being open for only 13 months? Will GulfQuest become a sealed coffin for his great idea? I hope not.


McLean died at his home on the East Side of Manhattan on May 25, 2001, age 87, of heart failure.[2] His death prompted Norman Y. Mineta to make the following statement:[11]

“Malcom revolutionized the maritime industry in the 20th century. His idea for modernizing the loading and unloading of ships, which was previously conducted in much the same way the ancient Phoenicians did 3,000 years ago, has resulted in much safer and less-expensive transport of goods, faster delivery, and better service. We owe so much to a man of vision, ‘the father of containerization’, Malcom P. McLean.”

In an editorial shortly after his death, Baltimore Sun stated that “he ranks next to Robert Fulton as the greatest revolutionary in the history of maritime trade.”[12] Forbes Magazine called McLean “one of the few men who changed the world.”[12]

On the morning of McLean’s funeral, container ships around the world blew their whistles in his honor.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcom_McLean#cite_note-nyt2001-2


Fortune inducted McLean into its Business Hall of Fame in 1982. In 1995, American Heritage named him one of the ten outstanding innovators of the past 40 years. In 2000, he was named Man of the Century by the International Maritime Hall of Fame.

McLean was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1982.

In 2000, McLean received an honorary degree from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

McLean is the only person to found three companies that were later listed on the New York Stock Exchange (plus two others on the NASDAQ).[13][14]

Trailer Bridge, Inc., which McLean founded in 1992, annually awards the Malcom P. McLean Innovative Spirit Award. The annual McLean Award recognizes an outstanding graduating student at George Mason University, selected by professors.

McLean was inducted into the North Carolina Transportation Hall of Fame in 2006.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcom_McLean#cite_note-15


List of maritime museums in the United States; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_maritime_museums_in_the_United_States

The Inventor of the box that changed the world; http://www.oakmtoa.com/malcom-p-mclean—inventor-of-the-box-that-changed-the-world.html

Wikipedia — Malcom P. McLean; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcom_McLean

I'm an American thought leader and pioneer on the subjects of human, organizational and societal development and health. I write about the role that integrity, dignity, sanity play, as well as, on the topics of spirituality, faith, freedom, happiness, problem solving and risk taking. I produce and deliver original, world-class commentaries on business, political, social and spiritual matters to a global audience of world leaders, chief executives and key decision makers, top faculty and notables in the fields of academia, banking, business, foundations, government (including heads of state, lawmakers and governors), healthcare, media, non-profits and policy institutes. Website: www.thesageofmobile.com