Tributes paid to yacht tragedy victim

By Mark Heath and Rebecca SheppardTRIBUTES were paid last night to a man described as the “driving force” behind the expansion of Felixstowe port, who died in a yachting accident.

By Mark Heath and Rebecca Sheppard

TRIBUTES were paid last night to a man described as the “driving force” behind the expansion of Felixstowe port, who died with a friend in an accident at a marina.

Captain Victor Sutton, who worked for the Harwich Haven Authority for more than 20 years, was found dead at Levington Marina on the River Orwell on Sunday morning.

The body of boat owner Charles Pennington, 73, from Norwich, was also recovered from the marina.

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The two friends had been staying aboard Mr Pennington's yacht, Genoa, after attending a dinner to mark the opening of Haven Ports Yacht Club's season.

It is thought one of the men may have fallen into the water, while the other jumped in to help before they both got into difficulties.

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Capt Sutton, 75, served as harbourmaster, general manager and chief executive of the Harwich Haven Authority between 1971 and his retirement in 1992.

Captain Ian Whale, who was harbourmaster in Harwich between 1986 and 2000, paid tribute to last night to Capt Sutton.

He said Mr Sutton, who lived in Brook Lane in Felixstowe, was “very highly respected” and would be “greatly missed.”

Capt Sutton, who was married to Anne, was awarded the MBE in 1983 and also served on Suffolk Coastal District and Felixstowe Town Councils.

Capt Whale said: “He was a very positive individual. He didn't suffer fools gladly, but he was very supportive and loyal to all his staff.

“I was really shocked to hear this. He was an experienced seafarer and an experienced sailor and it is quite a shock to me that he would die in such a way.

“I believe he could swim, but any person of that age who falls in cold water could be in trouble.”

The son of a former Great Yarmouth harbourmaster, Capt Sutton was educated at Framlingham College and served at sea with Royal Mail Lines from 1946.

He joined the Port of London Authority in 1959 before becoming Harwich harbourmaster in 1971.

Capt Whale said: “At that time it was quite a small organization, but it grew, in particular as the bigger container ships started appearing over the horizon.

“Harwich Haven Authority was involved in the dredging of the deep channels, which acted as a catalyst to the expansion of the ports and the port of Felixstowe.

“He was the driving force behind the work that led to the growth of Felixstowe port in the 70s and 80s and early 90s.”

He continued: “In the 1980s there was discussion on the reform of the UK pilotage system and he provided quite a bit of advice to the government at that time.

“In 1988 all pilotage was taken away from Trinity House to the local ports. He managed that change.

“There were problems in the way the pilotage was administered in the UK and Capt Sutton was involved in the discussions as to how that could be improved.”

Suffolk police said post-mortem examinations had been carried out on both men and added their deaths were not being treated as suspicious and inquests would be held at a later date.

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