Donald Alexander Hutchinson
September 25th. 1951. Joined CNCo on Agreement with his Master's Certificate (Foreign Going) No.055155 which he obtained on June 25th.1951.
February 22nd. 1956. Proceeded on Home leave. Promoted to C/O on March 2nd 1956. Returning on November 8th. 1956.
October 27th. 1961. When approaching the wharf at Rabaul the Shansi III suffered minor damage to the shell plating due to excessive speed.
July 1964 - February 1965. Appointed Acting Marine Superintendant.
March 1965. Apart from leave was Master of the Taiyuan III for the next 4 years.
August 1969 - 1976. Master of the "Coral Chief" ex Chekiang II, "New Guinea Chief" ex "Kwangsi I" and "Island Chief" ex Chefoo II. During 1971 he was complemented by head office on the excellent training that he and the Chief Engineer organised and conducted for the new Papuan crews.
June 1971. Appointed Fleet Commodore.
Retired on January 25th.1981 after nearly 30 years service.
Events / Stories
Don Hutchinson, known to most close to him as Hutch, was a larger than life figure in every sense of the meaning. He worked hard and played hard. Hutch loved pomp and ceremony and thus his appointment as Master of M.S. Coral Princess suited him well. Whether declaring, at short notice, that rig of the evening would be blue mess kit - much to the consternation of the other officers on board, who rarely possessed such - or stepping ashore in white gloves to inspect local hostelries, it was always clear to those who met him what role he filled on board.
Favourite personal memories of Hutch include:
Preparing to disembark in Yokohama to pay our respects to the Mariners' Club. As Hutch passed the Chief Officer's cabin, he leant through the curtain, and declared: "Chief Officer, I am going ashore. You have the ship. Whatever is going on... stop it."
Returning to Osanbashi on another occasion, both of us perhaps slightly the worse for wear after a splendid night out, we clambered up the gangway only to be met by a quartermaster who was NOT wearing the proper CNCo attire. "Quartermaster", thundered Hutch, "why are you not wearing your CNCo uniform?" The reply was classic. "With respect, sir, could it possibly be because you are on the wrong ship?" We had stepped aboard Marco Polo, sister ship to Coral Princess. Our own ship was further along the wharf.
Australian passengers. It goes without saying that Hutch felt absolutely at home with Aussies aboard, and he was a popular captain, but one occasion stands out. We had not long sailed on the first evening of a cruise southbound from Hong Kong; after a few hours by the pool on deck, most passengers had donned jackets - if not ties - for cocktails in the London Bar on board. All looked well. Suddenly, in the main lobby stairwell area, the door from the Officers' Deck swung open and out stepped what can best be described as an apparition. Hutch was standing there in flip flops, Hawaiian shorts, Fijian shirt, sunglasses and a straw hat. Dressed as I was for the evening in white jacket and tie, I stepped forward briskly. "Er, Commodore, I... er, it's after six..." "Ssshhh, shhhh" retorted Hutch. "Incognito, old boy, incognito. Want to see what these Aussies get up to". And with that, he strode into the main lounge. He could not have been more conspicious, but it was certainly an ice-breaker!
Mark Beaumont, Cruise Director, M.S. Coral Princess 1979-1985
Louise Roy, Don Hutchison's niece relates the following incident, which appeared on the SMA website on August 15th. 2015.
He certainly was special.. and so funny. His father was a great person too; he played piano on cruise ships and was also living in Longueville when I was there. He taught me to improvise and to play lots of new music.
Did you ever here the story about Augusto Pinochet and the Blockade ?
Some time after 1970s President Pinochet was annoyed with Britain and blocked British ships from entering Valparaiso Harbour. Our great great grandmother (and Joyce's), Clara Howard, came to Australia from Santiago, Chile. She was the only one of her brothers and sisters to leave Chile. She married an Australian sailor called Alfred Dawson in Santiago. They had most of their children in Santiago before coming out here, so we have many relatives in Chile and we keep in touch with them. Joyce and Don had quite a few Chilean relatives staying with them over the years in Longueville.
One of them was Guillermo Nartinez Spikin. Guillermo married Jacqueline daughter of Augusto Pinochet. Joyce and Don were invited to the wedding, as were all of us. I can't recall who actually went but I do remember Joyce telling me what an amazing event it was, with Mr Pinochet being very charming at the church and reception and everyone having a good time. Apparently he was very nice when not torturing his enemies.
On the occasion of the blockade, Don was captain of a British ship carrying cargo and wanted to enter Valparaiso Harbour. He was told he wasn't allowed. As you know he (Don) could be very intimidating and formidable when he needed to be and he spoke Spanish quite well. He got on the phone and spoke to people further and further up the chain of command. No-one was going to let the ship in. Finally he reached someone very important and said:- "I want to speak to my cousin" The important person replied "Who is your cousin ?" Don replied "Augusto Pinochet - The President."
And so he spoke to the President and the ship was allowed in - the only British ship permitted past the blockade.