Former president and CEO of Knight & Carver Maritime, Sampson A Brown has passed away at the age of 55 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Assuming the role in 2001, Brown confronted the company’s 20-year history of mixed success with a new strategy. Instead of building new-build yachts, which brought high financial risk, he shifted the business model, focusing instead of refit and repair. His goal was to persuade owners, captains and agents of superyachts – those cruising glamorous ports of the Mexican Rivera, South Pacific, South Florida, the Caribbean and the French Rivera – to undergo their major repair projects in National City on America’s West Coast.

“He was absolutely relentless and passionate in the pursuit of his goals,” said Mike O’Leary, who served alongside Brown as a top executive with Knight & Carver Maritime. “He was one of the smartest, shrewdest people I’ve ever known.”

“The man could be infuriating, but you’d end up laughing with him afterward,” said Kate Pearson, who worked closely with Mr. Brown as Knight & Carver Maritime’s marketing director. “He made good things happen that shouldn’t have happened, that most people thought could’ve never happened. He was like a force of nature.”

Sampson A. Brown (1958-2013).

Brown’s grand vision was put on hold by the events of 9/11, and as such revenues plunged, and he was forced to downsize the shipyard.

Not long after however, a number of superyachts, including Tatoosh and Ronin, rejuvenated Knight & Carver’s fortunes. “Sam was absolutely determined to make us a big-time player,” said Giovanni LoCoco, the company’s long-time project manager. “He made us believe we could get there, and we did.”

Following his tenure at Knight & Carver, and prior to his diagnosis, Brown served as a legal consultant for BAE Systems, a San Diego-based commercial shipyard. In that role, he led the effort to resolve mitigation issues for a coalition of San Diego’s bayfront shipyards, including BAE.

Brown is survived by his wife Maureen; son, Joseph, a student at the University of Arizona; and daughter Britney, a student at Torrey Pines High School. Private services are planned for 7 December aboard a Hornblower Cruises excursion ship on San Diego Bay. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Sampson A. Brown Memorial Fund for the Monarch School.

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