John Jenkins

Post date: Jun 14, 2010 9:10:31 PM

(This news item was first published on the original PONLHeritage website on 19 May 2010)

We have been advised that John Jenkins, former chairman of Overseas Containers (Australasia) Limited (OCAL) and a member of the London board died on 7 May 2010.   He was 85.



JOHN CECIL JENKINS 1925 - 2010 - Pioneer of Containerisation in Australia and Shipping Stalwart.

John was born in Oxford in the UK, his father an Anglican theologian and mother a nurse. As a youth he lived mainly in Switzerland interspersed with time in England.

He joined P&O during the latter part of World War II and saw service in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and the Middle and Far East.

After the war he spent several years at sea with P&O, becoming a master mariner before migrating to Australia in 1954.

His association with shipping and the waterfront in Australia began from the day he walked down the gang plank. Within days he was working for McDonald Hamilton Pty Ltd, which later became P&O Australia. In 1964 he joined Darling Island Stevedoring Company.

In 1966 he joined Overseas Containers Australia Ltd and was part of a team leading the introduction of container shipping between Europe and Australia.

Starting in 1969,he played a major role in establishing the Australia Japan Container Line. He was Managing Director for five years.

From 1976 he played a leading role in the development of Container Terminals Australia Ltd, now known as Sydney’s Port Botany Terminal.

In 1983, he became Chairman and Managing Director of Overseas Containers Australia Limited and was appointed to the board of the parent company in the UK.

At the beginning of 1987  P&O  Australia bought Overseas Containers Australia PTY Ltd, having already acquired the parent company in UK.

At various times he was either, Chairman or a Director on 14 Boards, President of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, as well as having extensive public service commitments.

In the 1980s he formed a strong relationship with federal transport minister, Hon Peter Morris. He became a trusted advisor on shipping and maritime matters to the Government of Australia, earning the respect of both Labor and Liberal governments. He served on a number of government panels, such as the Waterfront Industry Reform Authority and the Overseas Liner Shipping Legislation Task  Force.

During this period he was also Deputy Chairman of the of the Federal Government’s Transport Industry Authority Council, a body reporting directly to the Minister  on matters pertaining to all forms of transport in Australia; Chairman of the governments National Consultative Group Task force on EDI in Trade and Transport; the British Government’s representative in Australia for the control of British shipping in the event of hostilities.

He retired in 1988 from P&O Containers and the Australian Japan Container Line in 1989

Following his retirement, he established a consultancy to provide strategic support to Federal and State Government bodies and industry in general.

He was Executive Director of the Australian Chamber of Shipping for much of the 1990s including the period of the 1998 waterfront dispute. He made significant contributions to the continuing development and reform of Australian shipping and the industry bodies associated with it.

Beyond shipping, there were other sides to John. Not far below the surface was a streak of irreverence, if not an element of larrikinism. He was known for his humour and great wit.

Working in London many years ago, John regularly travelled to work by train. His seat of choice was that of a regular commuter who displayed his annoyance by taking the adjacent seat and spreading the pages of The Times across John in the hope that John would become sufficiently uncomfortable to vacate the seat on the next journey. John, who was still smoking at the time, ‘accidentally’ set the gentleman’s paper on fire. He retained the seat for the remainder of his stay in London.

He was also a home renovator and a home builder with a great knowledge and appreciation of colonial architecture. He was a skilled handyman and keen woodworker, building a impressive workshop of both antique and hi-tech tools.

John was a prodigious reader, a follower of politics and current events and a lover of classical music.

John died on 7 May 2010 after a long illness. He is survived by his wife Tamara and his daughter Trudy by his first wife Heather and granddaughter Tess.

Tamara Jenkins