Container-ships are vessels possessing an internal structure that facilitates the handling of containerised cargo. At each port along the vessel's journey, containers destined for those ports are unloaded and additional containers destined for subsequent ports are loaded. Determining a viable arrangement of containers that facilitates this process, in a cost-effective way, constitutes the deep-sea containership stowage problem. This paper outlines a computer system that generates good sub-optimal solutions to the stowage pre-planning problem. This is achieved through an intelligent analysis of the domain allowing the problem to be divided into sub-problems: a generalised placement strategy and a specialised placement procedure. This methodology progressively refines the arrangement of containers within the cargo-space of a container ship until each container is specifically allocated to a stowage location. Good, if not optimal, solutions for the problem are obtained in a reasonable processing time through the use of heuristics incorporated into objective functions for each stage.