Merchant Navy Representative – Trustee

Derrick Atkinson retired as Merchant Navy Master Mariner having served almost 20 years as Captain on Very Large Crude Oil Carriers before being posted ashore in Singapore where he worked until he retired as General Manager in BW Shipping.

Derrick has extensive knowledge of International Shipping matters. He has worked in multi-cultural environments including overseeing multinational crews and managing offices in Europe, the Middle and Far East.

Captain Atkinson has been a member of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners since 1999. Since retirement he has done consultative tasks for numerous shipping companies in the Far East and China.

Captain Derrick Atkinson is a Jamaican born Master Mariner with over 40 years experience in the Merchant Navy. He commenced his seagoing career with the Jamaica Banana Producers Steamship Company where he served as an officer cadet to the rank of Second Navigation Officer before seeking employment in other shipping companies to gain experience and progress his career.

This proposed Memorial to include representation from the Merchant Navy alongside the fighting forces of the Army, Air Force and Navy holds a special sentiment to him as he recalls his early days of sailing on “S.S Jamaica Planter” and meeting Chief Engineer Strivens who had served on the old ” S.S. Jamaica Producer” during the Second World War and survived being torpedoed off the Azores whilst returning to UK laden with a cargo of bananas, fruit and metal. He narrated details of his anxiety, his five sleepless nights, wearing his life jacket 24 hours per day and the long hours worked to keep the stricken vessel afloat to arrive in London. In London the vessel was discharged, repaired and the crew some of whom were Jamaicans resumed their duties without fuss or fanfare to sail back to Jamaica and continue their contributions to the war effort and supply needed vital produce.

Mr Strivens’s story has been indelibly etched in his mind and has made him more reflective when he transited the Azores and remember the story and the two words of the telegram Mr. Strivens would send to his family each time the vessel passed the Azores in bound to UK – AM SAFE –
Remembering Chief Engineer Strivens’s incident aboard a Jamaican owned and registered vessel and the contributions of the Jamaican ratings on board makes Captain Atkinson proud to be a representative for the brave and selfless West Indian men of the Merchant Navy who unceremoniously served during the war.

After leaving Jamaica Banana Producers Steamships Company Captain Atkinson spent 6 years employed by General American Transport Tanker Company (GATX) where he was promoted to Chief Officer within his first year of joining. A rank he retained until the fleet was sold. GATX however retained him as an independent consultant to supervise the loading and discharge of their tankers between the Arabian Gulf and South Africa.

In 1980 he joined the Chinese owned,and world largest privately owned shipping company- Worldwide Shipping Company as Chief Officer in their tanker division. He was promoted to Master / Captain in 1982 – the rank he retained until 2001 when he was relocated and promoted to the company’s Singapore head office as Fleet Captain. Within 4 months of being relocated he was promoted to General Manager in charge of Fleet Personnel. The post remit was the responsibility for all aspects of the management of the multinational seagoing officers and ratings worldwide. This involved negotiating with International and Local Unions, Training and Development of staff, Career Paths, Compensations, Compliance, Budgets for both seafarers and the companies international offices, with specific emphasis on nationality and cost of living per location. At the height of operations the company employed in excess of 5000 personnel of 9 main nationalities and maintained 6 owner offices and liaise with 4 independent agencies.

In 2010 Captain Atkinson retired from Worldwide Shipping Company – then rebranded as BW Shipping- and returned to UK.

Captain Atkinson’s experience in international fleet personnel trends afforded him to travel frequently to Singapore and China to advise, lecture and provide manning solutions.

Between 2012 to 2014 Captain Atkinson returned to Singapore as Senior Manager with American Eagle Tankers, a subsidiary of Petronas Malaysia, as consultant to advise and set up their Fleet Personnel Department.

Captain Atkinson is now fully retired after a life of dedication to his profession which rewarded him with almost 20 years as Captain on Very Large Crude Oil Carriers (VLCCs), 10 years as General Manager, exposure to different cultures, worldwide travel and being admitted to the Honourable Company of Master Mariners and Freeman of the City of London since 1999 to present date.