David Ingham and Nigel Palmer

FELIXSTOWE Master Mariners Club has elected Captain David Ingham of Bentley as its first life president.The election was in recognition of his service to the club, known as the Dolphins, since it was formed 33 years ago.

FELIXSTOWE Master Mariners Club has elected Captain David Ingham of Bentley as its first life president.

The election was in recognition of his service to the club, known as the Dolphins, since it was formed 33 years ago.

In that time, the club has brought together hundreds of active and retired ships' officers, marine pilots and others in the transport industry who are based in Suffolk and north Essex.

Capt Ingham, 75, was just 24 when he first took command of an FT Everard ship, and went on to captain around 20 of their vessels, travelling as far as the Bay of Biscay and the Baltic, before becoming a Trinity House pilot for the Ipswich district.


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He was appointed district sub-commissioner in 1973 and later seconded to Saudi Arabia for 16 months as a pilot in the port of Jeddah. In the late 1980s, with Ipswich harbourmaster the late Capt John Bain, he negotiated the integration of Ipswich pilots with those from Thames North Channel and Harwich Haven Authority.

He retired aged 62 due to an injury he suffered to his knees in a pilot launch hit by an easterly gale. He went on to take on a Trinity House consultancy on pilotage reorganisation outside the UK.

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His seafaring days are far from over, and in 2008 he brought a 70ft barge yacht back from Brussels for her owners, travelling by canal to Calais and across to the Deben estuary and Woodbridge. He has been a Bentley parish councillor and served four years as the council's chairman.

Capt Nigel Palmer, chairman of the Merchant Navy Training Board since 2000, was elected club captain of the Dolphins in succession to Capt Ingham. He lives near Felixstowe Ferry, where the club meets, but missed the annual meeting last Tuesday. He had to be in London on business instead.

Although his home is a few minutes from where he enjoys some of the best sailing and golf in the country, Capt Palmer, 57,is one of those people for whom “retirement” means anything but.

He is also chairman of the Maritime Skills Alliance, formed in 2004 to bring together the merchant and Royal navies, port, fishing and leisure industries on maritime training issues, and chairman of Britannia P & I (Protection and Indemnity) Club.

A Younger Brother of Trinity House, he was appointed OBE in 2007 for services to the shipping industry. Capt Palmer is a non-executive director of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and board member of Glasgow Nautical College.

Educated at the then Felixstowe grammar school, his career began as a cadet with BP tankers and he served in a variety of ships before attaining command in 1984. He was seconded in 1991 to the Australian North West Shelf LNG Project in Japan and in 1994 to Australia as general manager of LNG shipping.

Capt Palmer returned to BP in 1997 to head up its shipping operations, responsible for commercial, operational and technical management of more than 30 oil, gas and offshore vessels.

After retirement from BP in 2004 he formed his own company offering marine advice to industry. He is a trustee of Slater Fund and sea cadet and shipwrecked mariner charities.

Membership of the Dolphins now totals 144, of whom 25 per cent are fully-qualified master mariners. Their honorary secretary and speaker finder is Paul Ruffles; speaker at the meeting was Paul Thomas, editor of regional yachting magazine Anglia Afloat.

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