News Item

Capt George King CBE FRIN

We are sad to report the death of Institute Fellow George King at the age of 92.

George was educated at Ayr Academy, Newton Park Higher Grade School and the Dumfries Academy. During school holidays he took many trips in the LMS ferry 'Duchess of Hamilton' on the Firth of Clyde, before being apprenticed to the Alfred Holt Blue Funnel Line in 1941.

As a midshipman, in late 1942 he found himself sailing in the Blue Funnel Line 'Polydorus', manned by a Dutch/British crew, on passage from Liverpool to Egypt with war stores. He became deeply engaged in fighting a U-boat for 2 days before the ship was finally sunk. For his conduct during the lengthy pursuit and his subsequent taking charge of one of the lifeboats, he was awarded the Netherlands Bronze Cross.

In 1952, after gaining his master’s certificate, he was seconded for a year to the Merchant Navy training school-ship 'HMS Conway', and was on-board when, under tow for a refit in Birkenhead, she grounded and broke her back in the Menai Strait; he had not been responsible for navigation, but assisted in recovery operations.

George returned to the British Tanker Company and, in 1952, as a chief officer wrote 'Tanker Practice: The Construction, Operation and Maintenance of Tankers'. This covered construction, arrangement of tanks, pipelines and valves which enable the simultaneous carriage of different grades of refined products, ballasting, tank cleaning and maintenance. This had never before been codified and the book was in continuous publication for 30 years, becoming the 'tanker bible' for several successor handbooks.

He progressed to command in the rapidly-expanding British Tanker Company, became marine superintendent in 1960 and was managing director from 1975 to 1981 - a time when the company controlled over 300 ships.

Capt King, together with the Institute, also took a leading role in the introduction of the traffic separation scheme in the Dover Straits, which became a pattern worldwide. He was also deeply involved in the installation of an inert gas fire-prevention system in tankers as well as the introduction of the general purpose crew system, in which deck and engine-room personnel are interchangeable.

He also wrote an autobiography in 1991, 'A Love of Ships', with details including pen-pictures of characters he had met around the world, and with incident and anecdote from his life at sea.

Capt King became an Institute Member in 1963 and Fellow in 1966. He was also a member of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners and was active in running many joint meetings with the Institute. He was also a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights and a Younger Brother of Trinity House, and was appointed CBE in 1979.

An extensive obituary can be found at The Telegraph link below . .

George Alfred Brown King                            27 April 1925 - 8 December 2017

  • 11 January 2018
  • RIN

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