Way back in time

The history and formation of Wilhelmsen Ship Management

2020 marks the 45th year Wilhelmsen Ship Management (WSM) has provided third party ship management since its inception in 1975.

To be exact, the papers that were involved in the establishment of WSM were signed on 1 October 1975 in Hong Kong with the name Barber Ship Management Ltd inked as the company name.

This takes us back to the time of our forefathers...

In 1883, brothers Herbert and James Wells Barber established the Barber & Co shipbroking and chartering company in New York. In 1901, they founded the New York & Oriental Steamship Company, later known as Barber Steamship Lines, Inc. James’s son, Edward J (Ted), joined and became owner of the company two years after Herbert’s death in 1915.

In 1928, the long-standing relationship with Wilh Wilhelmsen (WW) began with a charter of five newly built motor ships for the Barber Steamships Lines from the US east coast to the Far East.

The five ships that created history for WSM under Barber Steamship Lines were Tai Yang (image below), Tai Yin, Tai Ping, Tai Ping Yang and Tai Shan (The Tai series carry Chinese names meaning sun, moon, good fortune, peace and Pacific). The new service to Far East was marketed as the Barber-Wilhelmsen Line.

152 - TAI YANG-10

On 17 June 1969, Barber Lines A/S was established to integrate liner services run by Barber Steamship Line, Barber-Wilhelmsen Line and Fern-Ville Lines with WW owning 50 percent of the company.

In 1975, to retain older vessels and mitigate high crew costs, the company made the move to bring in Asians therefore, Barber Ship Management Ltd was registered in Hong Kong.

WW resolved in 1979 to market itself as key player in the maritime sector. A separate department handled technical and maritime operation of vessels, supplemented with external and internal consultancy services.

It was a successful step and over the years, the company was entrusted more and more types of vessels from various nations. The maritime section was revamped in 1983, and subsequently had its own profit centre called Barber Ship Management (BSM) comprising BSM in Hong Kong, Wilh Wilhelmsen Ship Management in Oslo and Wilh Wilhelmsen Technical Consultants (Wiltec).

In 1980, Barber Steamship Lines became wholly owned by WW when Edward J Barber decided to sell out to the company’s closest commercial partner of over 60 years.

The management of BSM transferring to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1994 and subsequently taking the name Wilhelmsen Ship Management in 2008 under holding company Wilhelmsen Maritime Services in efforts to strengthen corporate identity among sister companies under the Wilhelmsen name.

In 2018, Wilhelmsen Ship Management moves its head office to Singapore, the maritime hub of Asia.

Logo through the years


Our logo today


45 years of ship management