Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Tuesday | October 13, 2009
Home : The Shipping Industry
Former presidents laud SAJ for training initiatives

( L - R ) Scott, Belcher

Two former presidents of the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ), L. Paul Scott and Captain Michael Belcher, have sent congratulations to the SAJ on the successful implementation of a National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institute (NCTVET) training programme launched in association with the HEART Trust/NTA and the Caribbean Maritime Institute.

We reported last week on the achievements of the first 18 stevedores to be certified under the programme. Below are the comments of Scott and Captain Belcher.

L. Paul Scott

Congratulations to the SAJ and all these stevedores. And, if memory serves me right, after so many years, Mike Belcher was the first (that I knew of) to send selected candidates working on the port for formal training in maritime affairs. They went to a maritime school in the United Kingdom.

Ernest Girod and Mike also selected the first group of container gantry crane operators from among the outstanding portworker winchmen/stevedores to go for training in Puerto Rico and in Florida at a Sealand facility to prepare for the cellular container revolution and operation of our first gantry crane, located at Kingston Wharves Limited.

I sometimes would refer to that gantry crane as 'Fred' in honour of Luis Fred Kennedy, whose vision was so important to the development of the Port of Kingston and the SAJ. Not to forget George Smith, then manager of Sprostons Shipping (Saguenay Line), who taught basic maritime classes at his Sprostons office after hours, for an invited group of locals, including Reggie Smith and Vance Lannaman, who then worked for George, and a few others from various other shipping agencies, myself among them.

This latest group of stevedores, and all concerned over the many years, including especially the current administration at the SAJ, are deserving of recognition and congratulations on jobs well done in the service of the Port of Kingston.

Congratulations and best wishes for continuing success to all involved.

L. Paul Scott is a former Kingston portworker, of sorts.

Scott, who is retired and now resides in Canada, was president/chairman of the Shipping Association of Jamaica from 1965 to 1969, which was a turning point in the history of the maritime sector in Jamaica. It was the period in which the Port of Kingston moved to Newport West from its original location in downtown Kingston. It was the period in which mechanisation was introduced in the port industry and in which the SAJ introduced a raft of modern benefits for the workers in the shipping industry.

Captain Michael Belcher

You would be surprised at who keeps an eye on you guys. Nice to hear from you. Paul was being his usual modest self. You will recall that he was our divisional director at GraceKennedy and encouraged the overseas training of those young men and women, many of whom have gone on to be leaders in the industry, like yourself. I also add my congratulations to the SAJ and the successful stevedores. Nice to know the SAJ is still alive and active.

Best wishes to you,


Captain Michael Belcher, who is also retired, was president of the SAJ from 1972 to 1973 and again from 1993 to 1995 and was Shipping Personality of the Year in 1984. Born and educated in the United Kingdom, he entered the Jamaican Shipping Industry in 1963 after a career at sea as a ship's master. He joined the SAJ's managing committee in 1968.

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