McAllister Towing’s chairman Captain Brian McAllister dies age 89

Captain Brian A. McAllister passed away June, 29 2022.
Photo courtesy of Dignity Memorial

Captain Brian A. McAllister, leader of the maritime industry and chairman of East Coast ship-assist firm McAllister Towing, passed away in New York on June 29, 2022 at the age of 89. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Rosemary; two sons, Buckley and Eric; as well as four grandchildren.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved Captain. Brian, who changed the future of McAllister Towing when he bought the company with his brothers and cousins, passed away peacefully this morning at his home,” the firm said in a statement. “We ask that you keep the McAllister family in your thoughts and hearts during this very difficult time.”

Capt. McAllister received his engineering degree from the State University of New York Maritime College in 1956, and went on to obtain his Chief Engineer’s License before switching careers to work as a Deck Officer. He served during the Korean War in the U.S Navy as Lieutenant Junior Grade and was Executive Officer on the USS Lake County (LST 80), before being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science at his alma mater.

Capt. McAllister was part of the fourth generation of McAllisters to run the shipping firm, which is now under the management of the fifth generation of family ownership. 

In 1974 Capt. McAllister and other members of the family bought the business from its predecessors, eventually going on to navigate a period of labor strife in the 1980s and became president of the firm in 1984. After he took over, McAllister helped forge the company’s expansion to many other Atlantic coast ports including Portland, Baltimore, Wilmington, Georgetown, Charleston, Jacksonville, Port Everglades and San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 1988, he became the company’s sole owner and oversaw the modernization of the fleet, including the introduction of z-drive tug boats. 

Capt. McAllister was also a well-known philanthropist, supporting his alma mater SUNY Maritime by financial donations as well as ship-assist services for the college. He was also a board member for South Street Seaport Museum, the Maritime Association of New York/New Jersey, the National Maritime Historical Society, the American Bureau of Shipping and the American Steamship Owners Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association. McAllister was inducted into the International Maritime Hall of Fame in 2015. 

Today, five members of the fifth generation of the McAllister family-run McAllister Towing, continuing a 158-year legacy at one of the nation’s largest and oldest family-owned towing companies. 

In his commencement speech to the 2017 class of SUNY Maritime, Capt. McAllister told graduates that the secret to his great success was a good education, the willingness to take on new challenges and the luck of having many friends to help him seize the opportunity. 

He encouraged the graduates that some of their greatest assets would be their fellow classmates and told them to “…keep the flag flying.” 

For further information, see www.mcallistertowing.com and www.88844ferry.com.