Swire's WRTW (formerly Bank Line Sopac) to End.

Alistair Macnab
27th June 2009, 02:36
Swire Shipping have announced that their earlier-stated plans to upgrade the former Bank Line Sopac Service will not now go ahead and, indeed, the current service using the four former Finnish-built ships will be discontinued with the last sailing from Europe in July, this year. This service which was a staple of Andrew Weir Shipping's Bank Line for 100 years has been rendered uneconomic by the current world economic downturn.
At the same time, Swire's ERTW service between U.S. Gulf ports and the South Pacific and Indonesia will be likewise discontinued. This service was formerly operated by Hoegh Lines.
All the multipurpose ships assigned to both services are getting on in years and it is speculated that they may not find new employment but are likely to be scrapped.

27th June 2009, 02:53
So it seems this is truly the very end of Bank line, or whats left of it.
I'm led to believe that prior to the sale to Swires Bank Line had been close to financial trouble, mainly down to the ever increasing expense of maintaining the 4 ships. It seems that it was the profits made from Weirs other business, e.g. managing the Hebridean ships and the 6 Ro-Ro/Container ships on charter to the MOD which kept things going.

27th June 2009, 12:19
Truly the end of an era. Very sad for those of us that remember the days of 60 ships and a Bank boat in nearly every port you went to.

Alan Rawlinson
27th June 2009, 17:38
Not sure if I am alone here, but it feels to me like some sort of relief. It's hard to explain, but I suppose it's because those of us that remember the busy and worldwide days of Bankline might prefer it to remain a happy memory, rather than have the name used for what seems like a derivative, not to say an aberration!

There is a parallel - similar to when a grand old ship meets her end at the bottom, rather than some sort of freak show!


Could just be sour grapes.

Alistair Macnab
27th June 2009, 21:06
I don't think 'sour grapes' and it must be 28 years since Bank Line and I parted company, but I STILL had an interest in what Weir's were doing and held no animosity that we parted on 'differences of opinion'!
There have been many famous shipping companies that have gone to the wall and we must recognize that Bank Line held on longer than most. Except that it wasn't Bank Line, it was something else altogether.
Yet I shall always have a soft spot in my heart for Bank Line ships and shipmates. After all they were the groundwork of who I am today.
Per Laborem Ad Honorem RIP.

27th June 2009, 22:09
It is sad - how many of us would have sampled the delights of the south pacific if we had'nt served on the SOPAC run - in the 70s and 80s I can think of no other way i would have visited the solomons , PNG ,fiji, french polynesia or new caledonia - even with todays cheap travel it will cost a few bob to get to this part of the world only to find a hotel complex or resort. Working with the locals and the aussies, kiwis and ex-pats certainly opened my eyes to a whole new world. I saw a liitle bit of paradise.

If the run is ending who will be carrying the coffee , the copra , the palm and coconut oil to europe ?

Alistair Macnab
28th June 2009, 19:00
Swire's website says the PNG/Solomon Islands cargoes will be containerized and go on their containerships to Singapore for transhipment to Europe and vice versa. No mention of what will happoen to the bulk coconut/palm oils but I was told last year by Swire's that they had already ceased to carry bulk oils on the former Bank boats because it was too difficult to manage! Seems to be an opportunity for the parcel tanker brigade.

28th June 2009, 19:42
Final sailing in July is the Mahinabank.

29th June 2009, 11:40
It has been many years since I left Bankline, my first company in which I served from Apprentice to Chief Officer, but have always had an interest in them, logging onto the Bank Line sub-Forum here quite often and reading the various comments. I was also on the Copra run a few times, Beaver, Cedar and Lagan in the 50's and 60's with some great memories of the Islands and all the personalities involved with the service. Wonder what the coprabugs will do now they are containerised?? I remember all thsoe hours tallying cocoa and coffee, seperating the various marks, drawing up the plans etc. etc then the Liverpool stevedores opening the hatches and pulling the bags out willy nilly, total disregard for all the seperations. And those good old days in Aussie when, after a hard days graft, the phone used to ring and the word went round, "Party tonight lads". Wonderful place with lovely women.

China hand
29th June 2009, 19:29
I think MarconiSahib wud know. Are some of the streets in Lae still named after Bank boats?

K urgess
29th June 2009, 20:12
It being almost 40 years since I was last in Lae, I had a Google.
Couldn't find a street map but addresses seem to be on numbered streets apart from Coronation Road.
Judging by these headlines, although it's expanded somewhat, it doesn't seem anywhere near as friendly. (EEK)

China hand
29th June 2009, 20:28
Jaa, same for me, last visit was in August 1980. But seem to remember Fleet, Beaver and Lagan streets were still there.
Went back to Moresby to land a Reef Pilot (I was sucking up for a job) a few years later and he said "happy Pappies? forget it! Off the tender, into the car, check the guns, airport, out! ASAP". Progress I suppose?