The shipping and logistics industry, and its press, are mourning the death of John McLaughlin, a veteran journalist and press advisor, who died on Christmas Day 2012 following a short and sudden illness. He was 54 years old.

McLaughlin wrote for more than two decades on the shipping industry, including 18 years as the New York correspondent for Lloyd’s List, and five as its Italy correspondent. Since 2010 he was the Italy correspondent for the group of shipping publications, Seatrade.

For the last three years, he was known to many in the European automotive logistics sector as press advisor to the Association of European Vehicle Logistics (ECG), consulting on press communication, strategy and speeches.

Costantino Baldissara, who worked with McLaughlin both in his capacity of commercial director of Italy’s Grimaldi Group, as well as president of the ECG, called him a “special man, very discreet and a great professional”.

“When I first started to have contact with the press around 15 years ago, I remember that he was considered in the shipping sector as a sort of institution, an extremely serious man,” said Baldissara.

Many who knew him, particularly in the Italian shipping industry, praised McLaughlin’s skill and eloquence as a journalist and his love and knowledge of Italy. A Grimaldi Group statement pointed out that McLaughlin, a native Brit who had recently relocated to Bath in the UK after living in France and the US, “was at home” in Italy.

“He spent a lot of time in Genoa, Rome, Naples and Trieste, conducting interviews with shipowners, brokers, lawyers and port operators,” said the statement. “His reporting was accurate, well appreciated and at the same time ‘dry and precise’, in a perfect Anglo-Saxon journalistic style.”

Chris Hayman, chairman of Seatrade Communication, praised McLaughlin’s journalism as well as personality. “John was a writer of immense talent and personal integrity. He was also great fun to spend time.”

Baldissara also expressed a deep respect for McLaughlin’s work as ECG press advisor, along with sadness, shock and regret at his death. “We have lost a friend, a strong supporter, a great advisor,” he said. “We are all shocked and so sorry for this very bad news. We are trying to find the reason for this tragic end but it is impossible to find it.”

McLaughlin’s sudden passing is all the more poignant for the ECG as he was appointed to replace Giovanni Paci, who also died suddenly in 2009 at the age of 46.

The Automotive Logistics group had the pleasure of getting to know John McLaughlin in communication and interviews with the ECG, as well as in the running of annual ECG events, including ECG Conference in autumn, which is organised by Finished Vehicle Logistics. As well as a flawless and precise writer, and a consummate professional, McLaughlin had in a short time become an integral part of the ECG. His professionalism made him a joy to work with, while his intelligence, humour and joie de vivre made him as popular with executives and journalists in the bar following industry events as he was respected by all those who worked with him.

Automotive Logistics joins many in saying goodbye to a friend as well as an associate. Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife, Lisa Frey, and his two sons, Conor and Aidan.