Alan Pearson MBE MM 1921-2011
CAPT Alan Pearson July 13, 1921 - August 4,
2011 Published in NATIONAL - September 15, 2011 by David Sexton
federal secretary and federal master of the Company of Master
Mariners Australia, Alan Pearson. Friend
and former colleague David Wharington delivered the eulogy as
he had got to know Alan Pearson after joining the Federal Department
of Transport in the early 1970s where Mr Pearson was a nautical
He recounted how Alan Pearson joined the then Department of Shipping
and Transport in Sydney in 1952 as a nautical and ship surveyor.
"Within a few years he was promoted to deputy director of navigation
for the department in Tasmania.
"One duty that he enjoyed in Tasmania and later in New South Wales
was making periodical visits to lighthouses for inspections.
In 1958 he returned to Sydney as senior nautical and ship surveyor,
before moving into the department's central office in Melbourne
as principal marine surveyor in 1961. Then he was appointed nautical
advisor in 1964.
"This also involved a very wide range of responsibilities such
as shipwrecks, both historical and modern, measures to prevent
oil pollution, ship casualty investigation and attendance at courts
of marine inquiry, such as the Lake Illawarra probe, as a party
in the public interest," Mr Wharington said.
"In 1972 he led the Australian delegation at the convention on
the International Rules for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
"He chaired numerous statutory committees including the Marine
Council and committees to determine the safe manning of individual
"Chairing manning committees was not easy as the other two committee
members were the ship owner and the sometimes militant maritime
union official. These two generally had very different agendas.
"Alan had very good people skills. In looking through his papers
I saw one letter from the deputy public service arbitrator thanking
Alan resolving a dispute at Garden Island between tug masters
and the dockyard management and commenting on the clarity and
conciseness of his report."
In 1979, Alan Pearson was made an MBE for services to shipping
before retiring from the public service in 1982.
Alain joined the Company of Master Mariners of Australia in 1965,
later becoming master of the Melbourne, Sydney and later federal
He continued to be active in the company until shortly before
he moved into a nursing home. Alan Pearson enjoyed study and research,
writing articles for nautical publications under the nom-de-plume
of Stargazer and obtaining a graduate diploma in shipping from
the. Australian Maritime College.
Mr Wharington said in the final stage of his life, Alan Pearson
wanted to get back home to resume making two working model ships
for his grandchildren.
"Alan played a leading part in the establishment of the Australian
National Merchant Navy War Memorial in Canberra," he said.
"His British seaman discharge book records that in 1982 at age
61 and after retiring from the public service, he sailed in the
square rigged ship Eye of the Wind from O'Pua to Sydney, signed
on as "trainee galley boy".
"I imagine that discharge certificate would have made him just
as proud as his earlier service as master," Mr Wharington said.
"Alan was a very good friend and like all of you, I will miss
Past President John Wilkins OAM RFD* comments that the
members of the Executive Committee Victoria Division Navy League
of Australia, on which Alan served for several years with distinction,
recalled his kind, helpful, active participation which was greatly
appreciated as he represented the much needed merchant service
point of view, it was an honour to serve alongside him.