History

Scroll down to uncover the history of Ben Line

1825

Meet Alexander and William Thomson (pictured right). Two Scottish brothers who began it all when they opened an account as ship brokers in Edinburgh in 1825. Shortly thereafter they became ship owners and ushered in the beginning of what will ultimately become Ben Line Agencies.

1825
1853

Location of the Bens
in Scottland

Enlarge

1859

So with this very Scottish beginning, how did we end up with such a strong presence in Asia? The answer lies in the Araby Maid (1). This beautiful iron ship undertook our first exploratory voyage to China and Japan (which took nearly 2 years) and heralded what was to become our major trade route.

1859

ARABY MAID (2) 1868 - 1894 Iron ship
(no image available of Araby Maid (1))

1914

BENMOHR (2) 1914 - 1918 One of the victims of the First World War

1930-39

This resilience was highlighted again during the devastating years of the Great Depression. Despite the massive global down turn, we managed to keep all our vessels in operation throughout the entire period of economic crisis. A feat for which we are justifiably proud.

1930

BENREOCH (1) 1930 - 1939 in Singapore

1939

BENRINNES (2) 1938 - 1949 in wartime grey

1950-72

Despite the severe setbacks of World War II, Ben Line forged ahead. We not only developed our liner services between Europe and the Far East with our impressively fast, custom-built tween deck vessels, we also established a number of new trade routes. It was this willingness to adapt to the times and our pioneering spirit that led to Ben Line becoming one of the leading liner companies.

1950

BENDEARG (3) 1964 - 1981 Tween deck vessel

1972

GREY HUNTER 1974 - 1986 Tanker managed on behalf of Robert Benson Lonsdale & Co. Ltd.

1972-73

Between 1972 and 1973, the giants of the shipping industry across three countries decided to pool their collective resources and experience to form a 3 country coalition that operated a 17 strong fleet of containerships in the Far East trade. The Trio Group, as it was named, comprised of Ben Line and Overseas Containers Ltd (OCL) from the United Kingdom; Hapag-Lloyd from Germany and Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) and Mitsui-OSK Lines (MOL) from Japan.

1972-73

BENALDER (6) 1972 - 1992 Twin-screw container ship

1973

BENVORLICH (5) 1976 - 1984 Bulk carrier

1974

With our traditional company spirit of adventure and collaboration, Ben Line decided it was time for a new challenge - offshore oil exploration! We partnered up with experienced oil drilling operator Ocean Drilling and Exploration Company (ODEC) to form Ben ODECO. This joint company owned and operated semi-submersible rigs, jack-up rigs and drill ships.

1974

BEN OCEAN LANCER 1976 - 1990 Self-propelled dynamically positioned drilling ship

1977

BENVENUE (5) 1974 - 1989 Chemical tanker

1984

In 1984, we made history by transporting the word’s heaviest semi-submersible oil rig, the Benreoch III, (weighing in at a hefty 17,200 tons) a whopping 14,000kms on a semi-submersible carrier from New Zealand to Spain.

1984

BENREOCH (3) 1983 - 1996 Self-propelled semi-submersible drilling rig

1987

1992-96

During this period Ben Line Agencies sold our vessels and rigs and, operating from offices in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, really began focusing on providing top notch liner agency services in Asia.

1992

1996-05

This was a period of significant growth for Ben Line Agencies. We extended our reach throughout Asia with the opening of our own offices and associates in the following regions:

  • 1997 Philippines
  • 1998 Indonesia
  • 1999 China
  • 2000 Myanmar
  • 2002 Cambodia
  • 2005 India and Sri Lanka

We also upped our game in the shipping services market when we established dedicated and specialised departments in Port Agency Services, Forwarding, Project Logistics and Offshore Support Services.

1996
2007

The handling of a semi-submersible accommodation rig in Kemaman

2009

We celebrated a remarkable 150 years in Asia in 2009. By this stage of our company’s evolution, we had expanded to over 80 offices across 15 countries employing over 1200 staff. This extraordinary feat of longevity was commemorated in a hardback publication entitled “Ben Line” by Graeme Somner.

2011

2013

Once again we were extending our reach in the market. We opened 2 offices in Korea (Seoul and Pusan) and 1 in Timor-Leste. This meant that our shipping agencies network included 16 countries comprising of 113 offices covering more than 750 ports in Asia.

2013
2017