Royal Navy officers saddened after sudden death of HMS Queen Elizabeth First Lieutenant Robert "Bob" Hawkins
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Commander Robert “Bob” Hawkins died at the age of 62 on the weekend of October 7 and 8 – leaving behind his wife Trudy, two daughters and two sons. He had a Royal Navy career which spanned six decades and was considered one of the force’s biggest characters.
His last post was as the Commanding Officer of HMS Caledonia in Rosyth, Scotland, and as chief-of-staff to the Royal Navy Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Brigadier Andy Muddiman RM, Naval Regional Commander Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “Bob Hawkins made an immediate impact upon his arrival in HMS Caledonia, much as he has done throughout his long and industrious career.
Rob Hoole, a friend of Bob’s for more than 40 years, added: “He will be sorely missed by the many whose lives he touched inside the Royal Navy and beyond and not least as a true gentleman and a leader. Bob was the personification of a naval officer; an inspiring leader and a true gentleman
"His integrity was matchless and he could connect with anyone from admirals to the most junior sailor. He also had an innate sense of fun combined with a mischievous sense of humour. He seemed omnipresent too; wherever you went, there was Bob.”
Bob served on a slew of ships, held posts around the world, and experienced vast social changes which have transformed the force from when he joined to the one he continued to serve before his passing. Bob joined the Royal Navy when he was 17 in 1978.
He spent his time on P2000 patrol vessels, Hunt-class minehunters, destroyers and frigates – as well as being First Lieutenant aboard the Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth – bringing her into service. The bulk of his career was spent in the mine warfare community, after qualifying as a mine warfare/clearance diving officer in 1982.
Much of his career involved directing the actions of minehunters, serving aboard the vessels and carrying out related training. Bob would impart his knowledge and expertise in mine warfare with the arm of the then Flag Officer Sea Training organisation.
They prepared small ships for front line duties in the 1990s and a decade later. Bob also spent four years assisting the Royal Saudi Navy with its Sandown-class minehunter programme.
His commitment to the subject and to the Royal Navy itself lead him to receive an MBE in 2017 from the late Queen Elizabeth II. Bob qualified as a principal warfare officer and assigned to the Type 22 frigate HMS Brilliant in 1993.
He served during the Balkan crisis and later as HMS Iron Duke’s Executive Officer, sharing his knowledge with Nato staff in Brussels and the US Navy. The serviceman also served on the staff of the UK Maritime Component Command (UKMCC), helping to oversee the Navy’s most important mine-hunting mission beyond home waters – which involved force’s in Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.
Away from service, Bob was involved with the leadership of the Scout Association at home and abroad, volunteered in Youth Justice in Scotland and was passionate about rugby. He also championed the successful campaign to erect a memorial at HMS Vernon – now Gunwharf Quays.