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Felixstowe: Former port chief Peter Bennett dies aged 77

13:06 07 March 2014

Peter Bennett, formerly managing director and chief executive at the Port of Felixstowe, who has died aged 77.

Peter Bennett, formerly managing director and chief executive at the Port of Felixstowe, who has died aged 77.

Peter Bennett, a former managing director and chief executive at the Port of Felixstowe, has died at the age of 77.

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Mr Bennett began his career as a traffic officer with the Port of London Authority and rose swiftly through the ranks to become personal assistant to the director general.

In 1973 he was seconded to a role in international and general shipping at the CS Group, where he went on to become managing director.

It was around this time that Mr Bennett crossed paths with Derek Harrington and, together, they were asked by Mr C H Tung, chief executive of the OOCL Group, to build and operate a private terminal for the OOCL fleet at Felixstowe.

The terminal was built and opened within 15 months and, very shortly afterwards, all terminals within the OOCL Group came under the control of a new company, Furness Withy Terminals Ltd. Container terminals were established in the United States, Canada, Italy and Saudi Arabia, with Mr Bennett playing a major role in this development.

In 1975, he was transferred to an executive position within the group’s cruise operation, American Hawaiian Cruises, and later he was seconded to Hong Kong for a short period in agency operations before transferring to head the group’s agency business in the UK.

In 1991, OOCL and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd made a successful bid to take over the whole of the Port of Felixstowe and Mr Bennett was appointed as general manager and director, joining up again with Derek Harrington. From 1991 until 1998, Mr Bennett ran the Felixstowe operation, being promoted to the role of managing director and chief executive towards the end of that time. In 1996, he was awarded an OBE for service to the port industry.

On his retirement in 1999, Mr Bennett was asked by the Harwich Haven Authority, responsible for navigation within the Haven ports area, to become its chairman, a role he undertook until 2008.

A spokesman for the Port of Felixstowe said: “Peter Bennett had a marvellous way of solving problems. Staff, unions and customers were all handled in a most expeditious manner. His quick wit and happy outlook had much to do with his success and anyone who came into contact with him will remember him with great affection.”

Mr Bennett died at his home in Suffolk on February 24. A memorial service will be held at St John’s Church in Orwell Road, Felixstowe, at 11am on Friday, March 28. All are welcome to attend.

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