BHP Shipping

BHP Shipping was an Australian ship transport and shipbuilding arm of BHP.

BHP Shipping traces its origins to 1915 when BHP chartered the SS Emerald Wings to transport its first load of iron ore from Whyalla to Newcastle on 19 January 1915. In 1917, shipping agent William Scott Fell & Co arranged for BHP to purchase a share in the steamer SS Koolonga. BHP purchased the ship outright on 30 July 1918 and it was renamed SS Iron Monarch. The BHP Shipping Department was formed on that date, headed up by who had previously assisted in the shipping arrangements for the 1909 Nimrod Expedition and served on the Advisory Committee to the 1917 Ross Sea Party rescue.[1][2] Captain William Halley, former master of the Emerald Wings, became Marine Superintendent of the Shipping Department. BHP Shipping was established as a subsidiary shipping line for the parent company in 1921.

As early as 1923 the company considered building its own ships but instead decided to manufacture steel hull plates, a major customer being the Commonwealth Shipping Line. However, in 1939 the company accepted a government request to establish a shipbuilding facility at Whyalla. By 1940 the BHP Whyalla Shipyard had five slipways capable of building ships up to 15,000GT. The first ship constructed at the shipyard was HMAS Whyalla. Between 1941 and 1978, the shipyard produced 63 vessels, of which 15 were built as BHP property. BHP shipping also chartered additional vessels constructed in Whyalla.

Following World War 2, BHP Shipping acquired more bulk carries to carry iron ore, coal and steel products. The ships increased in size up to the 1980s when demand for steel began to decline. From that time some of the ships were used to carry coal, coke and iron ore to export customers.

In December 1983, BHP Shipping was absorbed into BHP Transport Ltd.

BHP Shipping transferred wharves and shore operations to each refinery site ahead of the demerger of BlueScope in 2002. BlueScope also inherited several of the ships.

The remaining fleet is part of BHP Transport and Logistics Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of BHP.

Fleet summary

NameTypeEntered BHP serviceLeft BHP serviceDispositionFate
SS Emerald Wings (later SS Iron Baron)General cargo1915 (chartered)
20 October 1919 (purchased)
13 November 1929Sold to E B AabySank off Texel on 11 October 1955
SS SouthboroughGeneral cargo1915 (chartered)May 1918Returned to Hazlewood Shipping Co LtdSunk by German submarine U-110 off Scarborough on 16 July 1918
SS Iron Chief (1st)General cargo19161 April 1928Wrecked off Diamond Head on 1 April 1928
SS OmanaGeneral cargo19 July 191721 July 1917Returned to Omana S S Pty Co LtdBroken up July 1959
SS Koolonga (later SS Iron Monarch)General cargoOctober 1917 (part purchased)
30 July 1918 (purchased outright)
1937Sold to Madrigal & CoBombed by US Navy aircraft in Manila Bay on 13 November 1944
SS Iron Prince (1st)General cargo191919 April 1923Wrecked on Cape Howe
SS Grelwin (sometimes written as Grelwyn)General cargoAugust 1920February 1921Returned to Scott Fell Shipping CoUnknown
SS WestboroughSteel cargoSeptember 1920March 1924Returned to Hopkins, Jones & CoSunk off Stavanger on 4 April 1943
SS Iron KnobGeneral cargo9 October 19231955Sold to Panatiotis VrangosSank in heavy seasin the Indian Ocean on 15 July 1957
SS Iron CrownGeneral cargo1923 (chartered)1943Sunk by Japanese submarine I-27 off Gabo Island on 4 June 1942
SS Iron MasterGeneral cargo9 October 1923July 1957Sold to Cambray Prince Steamship Co LtdBroken up March 1959
SS Iron Master (2nd)Bulk cargo16 November 192313 September 1945Sold to Cambray Prince Steamship Co LtdBroken up December 1959
SS Iron Warrior (1st)General cargo192511 June 1957Sold to Onfrio JacominoSank off Cheung Chau during Typhoon Ruby on 5 September 1964
SS Iron Chief (2nd)General cargo19301934Sold to Essex OakSank off Dover on 13 June 1963
SS Iron Baron (2nd)Ore carrier19361966Sold to Australia Pacific Shipping (H.K.) LtdBroken up in 1969
SS Iron KingOre carrier19361967Sold to Golden Star Shipping CompanyBroken up in 1970
SS Iron ChieftainOre carrier19371942Sunk by Japanese submarine I-24 off Manly on 3 June 1942
SS Iron Knight (1st)Ore carrier19371943Sunk by Japanese submarine I-21 off Bermagui on 7 February 1943
SS KenilworthGeneral cargo19411947Returned to Commonwealth Government Shipping Control BoardBroken up March 1959
SS Iron Monarch (2nd)Ore carrier28 March 19431972Sold to Great Fareastern LtdBroken up October 1972
SS Iron Duke (originally SS Iron Duke II)Ore carrier28 March 1943July 1970Sold to Pac Trade Navigation CoBroken up September 1971
SS Iron YampiGeneral cargo1 September 194726 September 1975Sold to Nissho Iwai Co LtdBroken up November 1975
SS Iron KimberleyGeneral cargo4 April 1949September 1972Sold to Wiltopps (Asia) LtdBroken up October 1972
SS BellerbyGeneral cargoMay 1950 (chartered)May 1951Returned to Scott Fell Shipping CoBroken up January 1972
SS Iron DerbyGeneral cargo1951January 1972Sold to Wiltopps (Asia) LtdBroken up February 1972
SS Iron WyndhamGeneral cargo195316 October 1976Sold to Union Bros Marine CorpBroken up January 1979
SS Iron Whyalla (1st)General cargoJune 19541 June 1979Sold to Selco (Hong Kong) LtdBroken up July 1979
SS Iron Knight (2nd)General cargoJune 19551971Sold to Great Fareastern LtdBroken up October 1971
SS Iron Spencer (1st)Ore carrier195727 September 1979Sold to Jehow Trading CoBroken up January 1980
SS Iron Flinders (1st)Ore carrier1959November 1977Sold to Goldwills (Hong Kong) LtdBroken up May 1978
SS AgeGeneral cargoJuly 1959 (chartered)July 1968Returned to Australian Steamships Pty LtdWrecked off Paluan on 17 October 1970
SS Iron Dampier (1st)Ore carrier19611978Sold to Goldwills (Hong Kong) LtdBroken up May 1978
SS Iron Warrior (2nd)General cargoMarch 1961February 1975Sold to Hi-Firm CorporationBroken up July 1975
MV Iron ClipperBulk carrier19 December 1964 (chartered)June 1975Returned to Anglo-Pacific Shipping Company LtdBroken up May 1984
MV Iron CavalierBulk carrier4 November 1965 (chartered)June 1975Returned to Anglo-Pacific Shipping Company LtdBroken up May 1984
SS Iron HunterOre carrier24 October 196823 July 1982Sold to Saudi Pride Shipping Co LtdBroken up December 1982
MV Iron EndeavourPanamax bulk carrier1969 (chartered)2 March 1983Returned to Nile Steamships CompanySank off Port Elizabeth on 26 May 1993
MV Iron SomersbyBulk carrier1971 (chartered)14 December 1986Returned to Ropner Shipping Co LtdBroken up April 1993
MV Iron BanburyGeneral cargo1972 (chartered)18 December 1975Returned to Alexander Shipping Co LtdBroken up September 2001
MV Iron Baron (3rd)General cargoFebruary 1972 (chartered)
4 March 1980 (purchased)
14 December 1986Sold to Epping Marine Co LtdBroken up Obtober 1986
MV Iron ParkgateBulk carrierJune 1973 (chartered)7 July 1986Returned to Nytoncrest Pty LtdBroken up July 1985
MV Iron SiriusBulk carrierOctober 1973 (chartered)October 1974Returned to Nytoncrest Pty LtdBroken up July 1986
MV Iron Monarch (3rd)General cargo/ro-ro12 September 19732002Transferred to BlueScopeBroken up May 2012
MV Iron Duke (2nd)General cargo/ro-ro197410 January 1986Sold to Loy Key ShipbreakersBroken up April 1986
MV Iron CumberlandBulk carrierJune 1974 (chartered)25 November 1986Returned to Glentara LtdSank near the Pitcairn Islands on 14 June 1987
MV Iron ArnhemGeneral cargo/ro-ro10 October 1974December 1990Sold to Pacific International Lines Pty LtdStill in service
MV Iron YorkGeneral cargo/ro-ro10 October 197429 May 1985Sold to Pacific International Lines Pty LtdBroken up December 1999
MV Iron KestrelBulk carrier21 December 1974 (chartered)29 May 1985Returned to Ropner Shipping Co LtdBroken up Broken up May 2003
MV Iron Kerry-KirbyBulk carrier21 December 1974 (chartered)29 May 1985Returned to Ropner Shipping Co LtdBroken up Broken up May 2003
MV Iron CapricornBulk carrier21 December 197415 October 1990Sold to Athenian Faith S.A.Still in service
MV MundooraGeneral cargoJanuary 1975 (chartered)January 1976Returned to Associated SteamshipsSank in the Arabian Sea on 9 September 1984
MV Iron MittagongOre carrier8 December 1976 (chartered)3 March 1982Returned to Bulkships LtdBroken up December 1982
MV Iron GerrigongOre carrier20 December 1976 (chartered)26 May 1978Returned to Bulkships LtdBroken up October 1985
MV Iron BogongBulk carrier29 August 1977 (chartered)
14 January 1983 (purchased)
16 February 1983Sold to China Dismantled Vessels Trading CorpBroken up March 1983
MV Iron CarpentariaBulk carrierApril 1978January 2003Broken up December 2003
MV Iron CurtisBulk carrierApril 1978January 2003Broken up December 2003
MV Iron ShortlandBulk carrier19791996Sold to Everbird Corporation N.V.Broken up December 2005
MV Iron SturtBulk chemical tanker197910 February 2006Sold to Jebsens GroupBroken up February 2011
MV Iron MyarraOre carrier2 May 1980 (chartered)7 May 1983Returned to Alcoa AustraliaBroken up October 1983
MV Iron Baron (4th)Bulk carrier19801999Ran aground in the mouth of the Tamar River on 10 July 1995. Scuttled off Flinders Island on 30 July 1995.
MV Iron Whyalla (2nd)Bulk carrier198126 January 2001Sold to Marmaras NavigationBroken up December 2009
MV Iron Spencer (2nd)Bulk carrier1981March 2000Sold to Marmaras NavigationBroken up December 2009
MV Iron Prince (3rd)Bulk carrier1981March 2000Sold to Marmaras NavigationBroken up May 2011
MV Iron NewcastleBulk carrier198523 June 1999Sold to Cobelfret Bulk Carriers N.V.Broken up April 2011
MV Iron KemblaBulk carrier19862 July 2005Sold to Tip Top Invest PanamaBroken up March 2011
MV Iron PacificBulk carrier30 May 198615 March 1998Sold to Partrederiet Bergesen Goic DaBroken up July 2011


  1. Sir Douglas Mawson (n.d.). The Home of the Blizzard, being the story of the Australasian Antarctic expedition, 1911–1914 Vol. I. Ballantyne Press. p. Introduction.
  2. "The Relief of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party" (PDF). The Geographical Journal. 49 (3): 218. March 1917. doi:10.2307/1779498.
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