Swire Absorbs Historic Northwest Brand Westwood Shipping

John Weyerhaeuser
The former Liberty Ship John Weyerhaeuser, in service of Westwood's predecessor Weyerhaeuser Shipping Line (Westwood)

Published Jan 31, 2024 11:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

One of the Pacific Northwest's few names in international shipping has sailed off into the sunset. Westwood, which started life as the in-house shipping line of Northwest timber giant Weyerhaeuser, has been folded into Singapore-based Swire Shipping. 

Westwood traces its origins back to 1923, when Weyerhaeuser chartered two ships to carry lumber on a coastwise route from the U.S. West Coast to the East Coast. The recently-opened Panama Canal made this venture economically possible, and the Weyerhaeuser Steamship Company was born. 

When WWII broke out, Weyerhaeuser's ships were requisitioned and its operations turned to supporting the war effort. It ran sealift freighters in the Pacific and Atlantic theaters on charter to the government. After the war, it purchased a small fleet of surplus Liberty Ships and returned to commercial service. (Weyerhaeuser continued using the iconic WWII vessels up until 1969.)

Beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, Weyerhaeuser reoriented its shipping operations towards customers overseas, particularly in East Asia. Through partnerships with other carriers and the development of its own fleet, the company began serving Japan, South Korea and China. Renamed Westwood, the line provided a weekly service rotation departing the Pacific Northwest for Asian markets.

Westwood was sold to Japan's Sumitomo Warehouse Co. in 2011 for $53 million. It was bought again by Swire Shipping in 2022; as of Wednesday, the brand has been retired and folded into Swire.