David Cheslin, former Chairman of Coastlink who died on August 5th aged 64, will be missed by many people in shortsea shipping.
Since Coastlink was set up nine years ago, David and co-founder Gavin Roser had arranged conferences, provided a forum for debates and networking and encouraged initiatives to enhance shortsea shipping as an integral element in a competitive supply chain.
Roser recalls: “Containers and containerisation fascinated David. He believed port congestion was one of the most challenging problems facing shipping lines and their customers.
“He will be missed by so many people in the ports sector, shipping lines and among shippers and by regulators, many of whom use Coastlink as an effective sounding board for an up to date industry perspective.”
Roser began to think seriously about setting up Coastlink after visiting various shipping lines during a project for a Continental line. “People were crying out for more coastal services particularly regional initiatives around the UK.
“So David and I put our heads together. in December 2003, we set up a meeting with industry representatives to discuss the viability of a coastal container service along the UK East Coast which would cater for both deepsea feeder boxes and the carriage of UK domestic traffic. While moving domestic cargo by containers seemed still some way off, the meeting agreed further meetings to discuss shortsea matters would be worthwhile, not least because of the looming spectre of port congestion in 2004.”
“Coastlink was almost a natural development as a vehicle to discuss the problems and advance shortsea interests, ” explained Roser.
The organisation was established with Cheslin, Managing Director of Dunelm Public Relations Ltd, and Roser, of Pantrak Transportation, as Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively. Roser became Chairman at the end of 2012. Although no longer directly involved in the organisation, Cheslin maintained the Coastlink site on LinkedIn, which provided news from the shortsea market.
“David always kept up to speed on the latest maritime developments while I liked to travel and talk to people. We had different styles of working which complemented each other.”
The first of 17 conferences took place in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in May 2004 and was repeated in June 2005, starting a pattern of one or two major conferences a year. In 2009, these were in Tallinn and Dunkerque; in 2010 in Hamburg; in 2011 in Hamburg, Liverpool and Bilbao; in 2012 in Dublin (sponsored by IMDO); and in 2013 in Zeebrugge (sponsored by the Port of Zeebrugge).
Themes ranged widely over factors affecting the development of shortsea shipping with emphases on the particular problems and opportunities affecting the host cities. Subjects included intermodality, feeder links, emissions, energy efficiency, road transport flows, port congestion and the problems presented by 18, 000 TEU vessels. Smaller gatherings discussed topical subjects. All have proved catalysts for lively debate and networking.
Roser paid tribute to his colleague’s “low key but deep conference style, searching for answers to intractable problems.”
Coastlink became a forum and think tank committed to expanding the role shortsea shipping plays in transporting containers around Europe. Participants include deepsea and shortsea shipping companies, intermodal operators, shipbrokers, ports and stevedores, forwarding and logistics specialists and shippers. It has extended its reach from the UK to Northern Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa and focussed heavily on factors restricting shortsea shipping’s ability to compete with road transport.
“David was thrilled that, over the years, Coastlink has really made a difference. It is a testament to his vision and drive that Coastlink has had an impact on the industry throughout European waters and beyond.”
A Memorial Celebration will be arranged in late September to celebrate David’s life and achievements.
Details will be posted on the Dunelm website www.dunelmpr.co.uk or available from the office.