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. The Box was fitted with tracking equipment and painted in a special one-off livery.
The tracking project was launched on 8 September 2008. The project tracked a standard 40-foot-long (12 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. The tracking unit suffered technical problems during December 2008.
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. The project was assisted by the Container Shipping Information Service.
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.
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.
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.
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.