The container stowage problem concerns the suitable placement of containers in a container-ship on a multi-port journey; it requires consideration of the consequences each placement has on decisions at subsequent ports. A methodology for the automatic generation of computerised solutions to the container stowage problem is shown; objective functions that provide a basis for evaluating solutions are given in addition to the underlying structures and relationships that embody this problem. The methodology progressively refines the placement of containers within the cargo-space of a container ship until each container is specifically allocated to a stowage location. The methodology embodies a two stage process to computerised planning, that of a generalised placement strategy and a specialised placement procedure. Heuristic rules are built into objective functions for each stage that enable the combinatorial tree to be explored in an intelligent way, resulting in good, if not optimal, solutions for the problem in a reasonable processing time.