2024 Alexander Dalrymple Award goes to John Dillon-Leetch
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2024 Alexander Dalrymple Award goes to John Dillon-Leetch

The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has honoured John Dillon-Leetch, Port Hydrographer at the Port of London Authority (PLA), with the esteemed Alexander Dalrymple Award for 2024. This award acknowledges his substantial contributions to the field of hydrography.

Dillon-Leetch was presented with the award on World Hydrography Day at a ceremony hosted by the UKHO at the International Maritime Organization’s headquarters in London. The event was led by the UK’s National Hydrographer, Rear Admiral Angus Essenhigh OBE, and attended by representatives from the maritime sector.

The Alexander Dalrymple Award committee recognized Mr Dillon-Leetch for his pivotal role in advancing the Port of London Authority’s dedication to navigational safety, conservation and sustainability. Under his leadership as Port Hydrographer, he has enabled the PLA to establish one of the UK’s most proficient hydrographic departments.

Hydrographic education

Mr Dillon-Leetch has also substantially contributed to the UK’s wider hydrographic community, playing a key role in the relaunch of University College London’s Master’s Programme in Hydrographic Surveying, which is supported by the PLA. This programme, accredited by FIG/IHO/ICA as a Category A course, is paramount in increasing the number of trained surveyors dedicated to the essential task of seabed mapping.

Commenting on the award, Rear Admiral Angus Essenhigh, UK National Hydrographer, UKHO, said: “We take great pride in presenting this award to John for his significant and lasting contributions to hydrography. We recognize his outstanding impact on the Port of London Authority through his leadership as Port Hydrographer and his pivotal role in advancing hydrographic education. He joins a distinguished lineage of the world’s most influential hydrographers, and it is an honour to acknowledge his remarkable achievements.”

Steve Ritchie

John Dillon-Leetch added: “I am delighted and honoured to be the recipient of this prestigious award. Steve Richie, who was the first recipient of the Alexander Dalrymple Award, wrote a book entitled ‘No Day Too Long - An Hydrographer’s Tale’, which first drew me to the profession. Thirty years later, to be counted amongst its alumni is the highlight of my career. I see the award as recognition of the Port of London Authority’s consistent support and the value it places on the positive impact that hydrography brings to improving safety, efficiency and sustainability on the Thames, as well as the wider ports and shipping industry.”

Under Dillon-Leetch’s guidance, the Port of London Authority has become one of the first ports to sign a Strategic MoU with the UKHO. This partnership has unlocked significant innovations and efficiencies for both the UKHO and the PLA, marking a new era of collaboration and progress in hydrographic practices.

John Dillon-Leetch continued: “Our relationship with the UKHO has been strengthened through our strategic Memorandum of Understanding, which focuses on the collaborative development, production and delivery of digital charting products, processes and data services. This will enable significant improvement in safety of navigation in our waters for all mariners.”

Since 2006, the UK Hydrographic Office has presented the Alexander Dalrymple Award annually. Named in honour of the first Hydrographer of the British Admiralty, this accolade recognizes significant contributions to the field of hydrography. Recipients, chosen by the UKHO’s Executive Committee, are acknowledged for their dedication to advancing global standards in hydrography, cartography and navigation.

John Dillon-Leetch with the esteemed Alexander Dalrymple Award. (Image courtesy: UKHO)
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