Lieutenant Commander Alan Peacock MSc RN FRIN
20 April 2020
Lieutenant Commander Alan Peacock MSc RN FRIN, who has died aged 71 after a lengthy battle with mesothelioma, was a deep specialist in Navigation – otherwise known as a ‘Dagger N’ – who became renowned when he was Staff Officer (Navigation) to Flag Officer Sea Training, or FOST, for the strict rigour with which he conducted his assessments of ships’ bridge teams and navigation departments. Careers often hinged on his opinion. His reputation spread not only throughout the Royal Navy, but also through many European NATO navies that sent their ships to be trained by FOST.
It was said that in the course of quizzing an Officer of the Watch in a ship about the Rules of the Road, he quoted some advice given in Cockroft and Lameijer’s Guide to the Collision Avoidance Rules. When the ship’s CO retorted that until the said book was recognised by the MOD as a proper Book of Reference (BR), he did not consider it to be official guidance. Whereupon Peacock set about getting it incorporated as a BR and added to every ship’s mandatory outfit of publications.
Alan was educated at Trent College, Nottingham, and he joined the Royal Navy as a Cadet at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in 1966. After gaining his bridge watchkeeping and ocean navigation tickets he qualified as a Principle Warfare Officer in 1975 before completing the Navigation long course in 1977. After a number of seagoing navigation appointments, including Squadron Navigation Officer to the 8th Frigate Squadron in HMS AJAX, he passed the Advanced Navigation Sea Check in 1983 thus qualifying as a ‘Dagger N’, an achievement of which he was very proud. A variety of sea and shore appointments followed, among them HMS HERMES, Senior Officer of the Navigation school, and Deputy Queen’s Harbour Master, Portsmouth.
He had a sharp intellect, an enquiring mind, meticulous attention to detail, and would put heart and soul into any job or task he took on. These qualities suited him very well to the two main jobs he did after retiring from the RN in 1998. Firstly, he was the Naval Staff Author with responsibility for the Admiralty Manual of Navigation; this publication ran to several volumes, each badly in need of a complete re-write, which he duly achieved. Then, in 2011 he was appointed as Editor of the Journal of Navigation, a position he only held for about eighteen months before being forced to retire following a stroke. Nevertheless, within that short time he was able to increase the Journal’s output significantly, as well as establish the Editorial Advisory Board. Subsequently, even in ill health he was a ready fount of navigational knowledge, generously responding to often complex mathematical queries.
Alan Peacock joined the Royal Institute of Navigation in 2000, and was elected Fellow in 2009. He was also a Fellow and Council member of the Nautical Institute. He had enormous affection for the Royal Navy, and will be missed by his many colleagues and friends.
The family will hold a private funeral on 22 April 2020; a celebration of Alan’s life will be held at a future date. He leaves a widow, Maureen, and a daughter, Katherine.
Alan S Peacock 4 November 1948 to 7 April 2020.