News Item

Prof John Kemp

We are very sad to report the death of Prof John F Kemp PhD HonFRIN FNI on 16 January.

John was a Merchant Navy officer for 10 years from 1947, retiring as an Extra Master Mariner. He then became a lecturer at the Guildhall University - now London Metropolitan University - retiring 26 years later as Professor and Dean of the Transport Faculty. He became a Special Professor at the University of Nottingham from 1990 to 2000, teaching basic marine navigation to students of the Navigation Technology MSc course.

John had always shown great interest in protecting the environment and, since 1969, had been a consultant on maritime safety and protection of the marine environment, taking on commissions for legal, industrial and government interests in Safety of Navigation, Ship Casualties and Marine Environmental Protection. He was also author of many papers on maritime safety and protection of the marine environment, and co-author of 10 textbooks on maritime topics.

His brilliance came to the fore when, in 2001, he founded and became Director of Offshore Wave Energy Ltd, a company still at the forefront of harnessing wave power - the vast, largest source of ocean energy.

Yet it is in the Institute that many of us recall his huge contribution. He joined in 1968 and was awarded Fellowship in 1971. He quickly became a member of the Technical Committee and spent a handful of years as its Chairman. In later life he was also a regular member of the Awards Panel. And he was the highly-respected Editor the Journal of Navigation for 10 years from 1987.

But John's lasting legacy will come from his inauguration of the triennniel Animal Navigation series of conferences in 1989, the latest of which - RIN 16 - having been held at Royal Holloway College last April; he was still an active member of the organising team. The first of the conferences led to the formation of the Animal Navigation Group.

In 1990, he was awarded the Harold Spencer-Jones Gold Medal - the Institute's highest award, given in recognition of an outstanding contribution to navigation - and was granted Honorary Fellowship in 2012.

John had so much more to give and will be greatly missed within the Institute and even more so by his wife, Margaret, sons Nigel and Chris and their families, to whom we pass heartfelt condolences.

John's funeral took place on Wednesday 8th February at the Worthing Crematorium, attended by an extended family - including 8 grandchildren - and many colleagues. Reflections and tributes were presented by his sons and past-Director, David Broughton, who had first worked with John 50 years ago.

The picture, taken from the Order of Service, depicts John as a teenager from 1947, whilst he was navigating tankers through still-extant WWII minefields in the North Sea.

Any donations should be made to MacMillan Cancer Support or the Seafarers' Trust at the links below . .


John Frederick Kemp             25 February 1930 - 16 January 2017

  • 07 February 2017
  • RIN

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