Sir Hugh Roderick MacLeod

Artist: John Walton

In office from: 1983 - 1993

Background: Shipping

A Cambridge graduate, MacLeod joined Ben Line Steamers in 1953 and became its joint managing director in 1964. He recognised the importance of the container revolution and was responsible for setting up and running the Line's major container operation between Europe and the Far East. Appointed Chairman of Lloyd's Register at a time when shipping was difficult and competition between the classification societies was increasing, he realised the organisation could no longer operate without greater commercial awareness. His goal, which he partially accomplished, was to achieve operating efficiency without any detriment to the highest standards of quality and safety. He was also eager to expand the organisation's non-marine activities.

A great advocate of the classification society's role in fostering safety at sea, he worked tirelessly to restore the faith of the shipping community in classification, and believed strongly in the value of collaboration between the leading societies. A shy man, whose cool exterior sometimes masked his innate decency, he never spared himself in the interests of the organisation. This was probably his greatest weakness for he believed in the power of an executive chairman and never created an effective management team. Stress and overwork contributed towards a breakdown in his health, and he died shortly before he was due to retire in 1993.

Related links:

Ben Line

History of containerisation


In the 1980s, the loss of many bulk carriers cast doubt on the credibility of classification societies. MacLeod worked closely with the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) to ensure a permanent secretariat was set up in London; promoting collaboration between the societies to re-establish confidence in classification.