Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk celebrate their 150th anniversary in Japan

Took delivery of 10 bulk carriers built at Japanese shipyards in 2020-2021

Committed to supporting their partners and the community, both companies areleading sponsors of The Mission to Seafarers Adventure Race Japan

21 February 2023, Tokyo, Japan – Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk celebrated the 150th anniversary of their parent company, The China Navigation Company (CNCo), at the Palace Hotel in Tokyo on 19 January 2023. The event welcomed more than 220 guests, including 12 former employees from John Swire & Sons (Japan) and CNCo, customers, and partners from Swire Shipping, Swire Bulk, and Westwood Shipping Lines (Westwood). With COVID restrictions recently lifted in Japan, the celebration was the first in-person gathering for many in nearly three years.


Mr. Jeremy Sutton, Managing Director of Swire Shipping, opened the event with a speech reflecting on the long history of the Swire group in Japan. This was followed by the cake-cutting ceremony – a lovely two-tier cake with berries making up the blue and red colours of the Swire flag, and covered in gold leaf. Eight former Swire employees – some of whom began their careers with Swire over 60 years ago – were invited onstage to cut the cake, alongside Mr. Sutton; Mr. Peter Norborg, Chief Executive Officer of Swire Bulk; and Mr. Jack Mahoney, President of Westwood Shipping Lines. Mr. Norborg and Mr. Mahoney closed the opening with a toast. Guests were then treated to a live koto performance while mingling over the course of the evening.


Customised gift bags were presented to guests as a token of appreciation, a reflection of Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk’s engagement with the Japan community. These included towels from Imabari, the city from which several of Swire Bulk’s bulk carriers were built, and chocolates produced locally in Tokyo from beans produced by a Swire Shipping customer in Papua New Guinea.


“Turning 150 is a significant milestone for CNCo, Swire Shipping, and Swire Bulk. We felt that it was necessary and appropriate to commemorate this with our customers and partners, whose support across the business and joint commitment in the areas of safety and operational excellence has contributed to our successes not just in Japan, but around our network as well. We look forward to building stronger relationships and working with them closely over the next 150 years,” said Mr. Sutton.


Mr. Norborg shared, “The dry bulk market in Japan is important to Swire Bulk, and we are grateful to both our Japanese clients and tonnage partners for their faith in us. Over the years, we have delivered a variety of cargo from grains to cement, logs and salt for our clients, and we will continue to offer our support especially as the domestic biomass cargo business grows rapidly. Thanks to the efforts of our Japanese partners, Swire Bulk welcomed 10 new bulk carriers into our fleet between 2019 and 2021, enabling our operations to expand and run more efficiently. We have committed to several long-term contracts of affreightment (COA) in this region, and we will carry on seeking out opportunities to support new and old customers in Japan.”


The China Navigation Company in Japan


CNCo has a long history in Japan. Before the end of the 19th century, the company had a regular shipping service through Japan, importing Taikoo sugar from Hong Kong and then exporting Japanese rice south to Australia. In the 20th century, CNCo’s business presence in Japan grew, with the establishment of new direct services to and from Japan and the launch of cruise services between Japan and Australia. The 1980s marked the start of a lasting partnership with Japanese shipyards, one that has spanned four decades. The company embarked on several newbuilding projects for container ships and bulk carriers.


Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk today in Japan


Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk are committed to setting high standards in the areas of sustainable development and decarbonisation. Today, both companies have one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets in the world, and continue to strive to be one of the earliest adopters of new technologies and alternative fuels. In 2020 and 2021, Swire Bulk saw the delivery of ten bulk carriers from Japanese shipbuilders – two bulk carriers delivered at Hakodate and another eight by Oshima Shipyard.


In the coming years, both companies will see exciting developments out of Japan. Following Swire Shipping’s acquisition of Westwood, the company has expanded its transpacific service and will be looking to grow this business out of its Japan office, in collaboration with its US and Canada offices. Long-term contracts have also been signed between Swire Bulk and Japanese customers.


Later this year in May, Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk will send four teams, involving both employees and customers, to take part in The Mission to Seafarers (MtS) Adventure Race Japan (ARJ), in the Izu Peninsula, Japan. Both companies are leading sponsors of the event. The work MtS does in supporting the welfare of seafarers around the world, especially during pandemic, is an area that both companies strongly believe in, and look forward to supporting the organisation and the Japanese community in various ways throughout the year.





Read the press release in Japanese here.


Highlights from the event 

Mr Jack Mahoney (2nd from left), Mr. Peter Norborg (4th from left) and Mr. Jeremy Sutton (1st from right) cut the cake with eight former Swire employees
Mr. Peter Norborg (left) in conversation with Mr. Takazo Iigaki, Chairman of Ben Line Agencies Japan

About Swire Bulk


Swire Bulk, the specialist bulk trading arm of the multinational Swire Group, is a leading vessel owner and operator in the dry bulk geared sector with a trading fleet of around 125 Handysize and Supra/Ultramax vessels controlled by nine commercial offices around the world. Its global headquarters is situated in Singapore. Swire Bulk operates one of the most modern and fuel-efficient fleets on the water. With a diversified cargo base and a balanced vessel operating mix between owned and chartered tonnage, Swire Bulk is well-placed to be a long-term partner of choice for its global customers and deliver market-leading, innovative, and sustainable freight solutions.


For more information, please visit www.swirebulk.com.


Media Contact

Grace WONG
Mobile: +65 8111 5807
Email: corpcomms@swirebulk.com