Fri | Oct 23, 2020

Shipping community mourns passing of Robert Lancelot Kinlocke

Published:Tuesday | September 1, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Robert Kinlocke (centre) contributed immensely to the development of local and regional shipping and here he is pictured at a recent meeting of the Caribbean Shipping Association’s Executive Conference with Clyde Donaldson (left) and Condell Stephenson, Port Captain for Hoegh Autoliners.
Robert Kinlocke (centre) was a member of the Managing Committee of the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ) and is pictured making valuable contribution to an annual general meeting of the SAJ. Also pictured are Andre Rochester (left) of Maritime and Transport Services Limited, and Trevor Riley, CEO of the SAJ.

The entire maritime community of Jamaica and the Caribbean is mourning the sudden passing of Robert Kinlocke, managing committee member of the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ), chairman of Gateway Shipping International Limited (formerly GraceKennedy Shipping Limited), International Shipping Limited, R K Logistics Limited, and a director of SAJE Logistics Infrastructure Limited.

Last year, Robert Kinlocke was honoured during the SAJ’s 80th anniversary for his tremendous contributions to shipping in Jamaica and the region.


“Robert’s was never a loud voice, but it was one to which you would listen because from him, you could always expect wisdom and reason,” says Charles Johnston, president of the SAJ. He continues:

“I have known Robert almost 50 years. We have been strong competitors in the shipping and logistics business, but we have also been great collaborators in the development of the industry and in business. We have served together on boards, including that of the Shipping Association of Jamaica, and as president, I have benefited from his counsel. I shall miss him and so will our industry. On behalf of my family, myself, and the members of the Shipping Association of Jamaica, I extend condolences to his widow and family. May his soul rest in peace.”


Juan Carlos Croston, president of the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA), expresses “deep sadness on the passing of someone who has contributed immensely to the past half-century of unprecedented growth and development of shipping in the Caribbean.” The CSA president extends “heartfelt condolences to Mr Kinlocke’s family and the Jamaican shipping fraternity in this time of grief”.


“It was with great shock and sadness that I learnt of the passing of Robert Kinlocke,” says Kim Clarke, chairman of SAJE Logistics Infrastructure Limited. Clarke continues:

“On behalf of SAJE, we mourn the passing of a stalwart in the shipping industry.

“In the past few weeks, we had many meetings, making plans for the future, and he contributed with his thoughts and ideas in making the company better. His presence will be surely missed by all. Walk good, Mr Kinlocke.”


Captain Michael Belcher, a past president of the SAJ, describes Kinlocke as “a much-admired contributor and stalwart of the Jamaican shipping industry … who generously shared his wisdom and knowledge with all who sought his help”. He recalls how the shipping executive climbed the ladder of success as follows:

“From his early years, Robert was the epitome of the young, upwardly mobile professional, constantly seeking, on his own initiative, to improve himself. It was this determination that influenced my selection of Robert in the first-ever group of young Jamaicans to read for a tertiary degree in maritime studies at the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology.

“He justified his selection through his demonstrated leadership qualities through the years as general manager, and later, managing director of Kingston Wharves Ltd, then managing director of Kingston Terminal Operators Ltd, simultaneously serving on the boards of GraceKennedy & Company Ltd, Security Administrators Ltd, Harbour Cold Stores Ltd, The Maritime Authority of Jamaica, and the Shipping Association of Jamaica.”


“Robert was not only a man of great physical stature, but also great integrity and noble character to match,” states Loxley Tulloch, general manager of Gateway Shipping International.” He remembers Robert as “a gentle giant who went about his business of improving the lives of those around him without fuss or fanfare. Robert could be counted on to do his duty as a parent, patriot, and a pillar of the shipping industry without fear or favour.”


Vivienne Thompson, general manager of International Shipping Limited and sister-in-law of Kinlocke, remembers him as “a man of great integrity, one who was always willing, unreservedly, to share his wealth of knowledge on the shipping industry”. She adds that he was “an extremely respectful and humble individual. Mr Kinlocke was always supportive, was solution oriented, and had a passion to have his customers served with excellence”.

The GM of International Shipping also notes that Kinlocke was very approachable, and his open-door policy was noteworthy as it allowed all levels of staff to be comfortable to communicate with him. “He has truly made a tremendous and lasting impact on my life and will be greatly missed,” she says.


Robert Kinlocke is among few persons who can truthfully claim to have been in the shipping industry for all his working life. He hailed from Broughton, Westmoreland, where his parents were farmers and was the seventh of their 15 children. He was the first to attend secondary school and is a proud graduate of The Manning’s School. Upon leaving high school in 1970, an older brother, who then worked at Sprostons Shipping in Kingston, told him about a job opening at Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL). He was interviewed and selected for the job as a clerk with responsibility for the preparation of tonnage reports and forklift contractors’ payroll.


It was at KWL that Kinlocke met another young man, Condell Stephenson, who would become his friend for the rest of his life.

With a hunger for upward mobility and intent on climbing the ladder of success, the young man from Westmoreland, and his friend Condell, enrolled in evening classes where they took courses in economics, law, and accounts and were successful in the Associated Examining Board exams. Following this, Robert approached his superiors at KWL for sponsorship to pursue business studies at The College of Arts Science and Technology, now University of Technology. His positive work attitude was so impressive that they unhesitatingly consented to facilitate his request. Both Robert and Condell were granted a one-day weekly release from work to attend evening classes.

Having successfully completed this course, Kinlocke went on to pursue studies in the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants programme. However, approximately a year later, in 1976, he abandoned that pursuit and instead accepted the company’s offer to him and Condell to read for a bachelor’s degree in maritime studies at the University of Wales, United Kingdom. In 1979, after successfully completing the course, they returned to Jamaica as management trainees with KWL. Robert made it his business to learn everything there was to know about the operations of the company, from the most menial tasks to the functioning of every department.

At the PAJ

Early in the 1980s, while still a management trainee, KWL placed Kinlocke at the Port Authority of Jamaica to work with the consultancy team of Louis Berger International, which had been selected to undertake the first port development and marketing study for the Port of Kingston, funded by USAID. He gained invaluable experience and knowledge over the six months, travelling with the team to other ports in the hemisphere to observe and learn from their operations. At the end of this exercise, he assumed the position of acting general manager at International Shipping Limited then agent for Zim Container Line.


In 1981, Kinlocke returned to KWL and was appointed general manager, and later, managing director of this entity. In this capacity he oversaw the successful merger of KWL and Western Terminals Limited. At that time, GraceKennedy was the major shareholder of KWL. In his role as managing director, Kinlocke led the team in the modernisation of KWL to take advantage of the increase in container business. During that time, the company bought its first Gottwald crane.

In 2001, he returned to the Kingston Container Terminal, this time, as the managing director, and remained in that capacity until 2003 when GraceKennedy exited the shipping industry.

He also served as director of several companies, including GraceKennedy Ltd, Kingston Wharves Ltd, Security Administrators Ltd, Harbour Cold Stores Ltd, Shipping Association of Jamaica, Kingston Terminal Operators Ltd, CMA CGM (Ja) Ltd, the Port Authority of Jamaica, and the Maritime Authority.


The decision by GraceKennedy to exit the shipping industry created the opportunity for Kinlocke to become an entrepreneur. Backed by his years of experience in the industry, he took a leap of faith and purchased the following entities from GraceKennedy.

• GraceKennedy Shipping Limited – renamed Gateway Shipping International Limited

• International Shipping Limited

• GraceKennedy Logistics Limited – renamed RK Logistics Limited

He also had a minority interest in Allied Trucking & Maritime Services Limited.


Kinlocke was involved in the activities of the SAJ from the 1980s, and for many years, represented KWL on the managing committee. Up until the time of his passing, he continued to serve on the SAJ’s Managing Committee and as a director of SAJE Logistics Infrastructure Limited.

His advice to young professionals in shipping was this: “Don’t limit yourself to the operations of the department in which you work. Learn everything about the business – from ship to shore and beyond – because shipping is a very dynamic and complicated operation that is only as strong as its weakest link.”

Notwithstanding his busy schedule, Kinlocke found time to engage in community activities and was a past president of the Rotary Club of Kingston. He introduced his lifelong friend, Condell Stephenson, now port captain of HoeghAutoliners, to Rotary, and he is now a proud member of that club. Struggling to keep back tears, Condell says: “I have lost a friend and a brother. Robert was a man of impeccable integrity, compassionate and resourceful, a forthright person who would tell you the uncomfortable truth without malice because for him, a man’s reputation was everything, more valuable than silver and gold.”

A devoted family man, Kinlocke is being mourned by his wife, Beverley, and their four children. Beverley, along with Richard – one of their sons – are integrally involved in the day-to-day running of the businesses.

In recognition of his outstanding professional accomplishments and immense contribution to the development of the Jamaican and Caribbean Shipping Industry, the Shipping Association of Jamaica, in celebration of its 80th anniversary, paid tribute to Kinlocke last year. The shipping community mourns his passing and recommits to his ideal of a modern, sustainable, and people-friendly maritime industry that will benefit all Jamaicans.