Scroll down to uncover the history of Ben Line


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.


Location of the Bens
in Scottland



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.


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


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


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.


BENREOCH (1) 1930 - 1939 in Singapore


BENRINNES (2) 1938 - 1949 in wartime grey


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.


BENDEARG (3) 1964 - 1981 Tween deck vessel


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


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.


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


BENVORLICH (5) 1976 - 1984 Bulk carrier


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.


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


BENVENUE (5) 1974 - 1989 Chemical tanker


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.


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



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



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 & Vietnam
  • 2001 China
  • 2002 Cambodia
  • 2005 India

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.


The handling of a semi-submersible accommodation rig in Kemaman


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.



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.

2017 Australia


In 2019, the company embarked on a rebranding program with the roll out of an updated logo and refreshed look.


2022 saw the expansion of BLA outside our traditional operating home of Asia. Our Vancouver office, covering all North America activity, was established to offer services on an Asia Pacific scale.

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