Royal Navy veteran;
Born: February 8, 1934; Died: June 27, 2012.
Captain Bob McQueen, who has died aged 78, had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy seeing service in two particularly demanding operations. He was captain of HMS Diomede in the 1976 Cod War, during which he displayed a cool head under pressure and remarkable seamanship.
In 1982 he was appointed officer in charge of Ascension Island, which was the vital staging post for troops and supplies during the Falkland's conflict. Capt McQueen ensured the island was a fully working strategic base and his outstanding direction of the island undoubtedly contributed to the success of the campaign.
Fife farmer Iain McCrone, who had known Capt McQueen from their school days recalled: "What a great leader he was, so highly respected by all his colleagues. He worked hard and played hard: always a generous man and a true and courteous gentleman."
Robert McQueen – known throughout the RN as Cap'n Bob – was born in Uplawmoor, Renfrewshire, and attended Trinity College, Glenalmond, where he was in the 1st XV and 1st X1 and captain of the school.
He left in 1952 and did his national service as a midshipman in the RN then qualified as a Fleet Air Arm pilot in 1957, being promoted to captain in the early 1970s.
He took command of HMS Diomede in 1976 when it joined the Fishery Protection Squadron. Diomede played a major part in the Third Cod War, which had been caused by Iceland unilaterally declaring a 200-nautical miles fishing zone. It was a challenging command as Capt McQueen was not allowed to engage the Icelandic fleet. Diomede patrolled the sea to preserve the rights of the UK fishermen.
The Diomede was often rammed by the Icelandic gunboat Baldur and a BBC newsman, Ian Smith, graphically reported from Diomede how Capt McQueen showed a mastery of the situation and the demanding conditions.
"Baldur had already been attempting to cut the warps of individual trawlers." Smith reported down the line. Baldur then dangerously came across Diomede's bows and Capt McQueen sounded a warning hooter but as Smith recounted, "Baldur kept on coming: at the last minute it pulled away missing by inches. Finally Baldur came in and cut across Diomede's bows." Capt McQueen later proudly steamed up the Firth of Forth for a major refit at Rosyth.
In 1982 he took charge of the crucial staging post on Ascension Island during the Falklands conflict. The volcanic island comprises 34 square miles and a staging base had to be created from virtually nothing. He oversaw the project with a rigid efficiency. He created training grounds and living quarters that provided the troops with some sanctuary before they went into battle. He also preserved the nature of the island and built defences against an Argentinian attack.
The eulogy at the funeral was given by Admiral Sir Michael Layard who said: "Robert was in every way, a good man; so kind and gentle yet very much in command; a role model, a beacon; a great leader of men, loved and respected by all who served with him; a good shipmate and a devoted friend."
His last naval command was on HMS Broadsword when he was appointed ADC to the Queen. After leaving the RN in 1984 he worked as a consultant in the aeronautical industry.
He devoted much time to a number of service charities especially Blesma, which provides homes for limbless ex-servicemen. In 2005 he published his memoirs, Island Base.
Captain Bob McQueen is survived by his wife Nadya, a concert pianist, whom he met while on service in Malta and their son and daughter.
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