It is with great sadness that we learn of Captain Ifor Owen’s death on 01 February at home after a very short illness. Our sincere condolences to Clare his wife of 60 years and their family.
Ifor, a very proud Welshman started his career as a cadet with Lamport & Holt Line in 1946, serving on the UK/ South America and USA/North Brazil trades until his transfer to Blue Star Line in 1953.
Ifor was appointed Master in 1963, he later commanded the pre-war New Zealand Star and came ashore as assistant marine superintendent in the London docks in 1964. With the advent of Blue Star Port Line Management in 1968 he was appointed as one of the port operations superintendents responsible for the joint operations of Blue Star and Port Line vessels on the Australasian services.
In 1969 he accepted the position of cargo superintendent in New Zealand with the newly formed Blue Star Port Lines (NZ) and was posted to their head office in Wellington. As both Blue Star and Port Lines services to Europe/ECNA were fully containerised by 1984, Blueport ACT (NZ) was formed and Captain Owen was appointed marine operations manager within the new company, which was responsible for all Blue Star’s agency work throughout New Zealand. This was a period of expansion for Blue Star Line in New Zealand, with the containerisation of the West Coast Service and the beginning of the Middle East Service, and Captain Owen was closely involved in planning the operational side of these new ventures.
In 1989, with the acquisition of the Shipping Corporation of New Zealand by ACT(A), the New Zealand Line was formed to replace Blueport ACT and Captain Owen became responsible for the ship management division within this new company.
Although Ifor retired in 1991 after 45 years’ service to Blue Star Line and the associated companies he kept in touch with his former colleagues with regular weekly meetings at the Featherston City Tavern in Wellington. He was also responsible for instigating the bi-annual trans-Tasman Blue Star Line reunions being held since 2005.
He was a long tine member of the Wellington Branch of NZ Company of Master Mariners and was a volunteer at the Wellington Maritime Museum until 2014 where he sorted and catalogued much of the memorabilia.
Ifor maintained relatively good health with an excellent memory. Having a keen interest in history he was a fount of knowledge when it came to the Blue Star Line and the maritime industry in general – he will be sorely missed.