'Much-loved' and 'hugely impressive' Shropshire Navy captain dies

A Navy captain from Shropshire described as "a rock and an anchor" to his family has died.

Captain Jim Simpson, who has died in service aged 44
Captain Jim Simpson, who has died in service aged 44

Captain William James Stuart Simpson, known as Jim, joined the Navy on January 16, 2000, and became a captain in just over 18 years.

Starting his career as an executive officer, he also studied to be an engineer.

Completing all his professional training, he was assigned to HMS Vanguard where he became an Assistant Marine Engineering Officer in 2006.

In a time where the submarine Marine Engineering branch was short he was specially selected to become a charge engineer without returning ashore, and undertook the roles of both Deputy and then Marine Engineering Officer (MEO) on HMS Vigilant.

In July 2008 he moved to Whale Island and was the submarine marine engineers’ Branch Manager before returning to sea for a second stint as Marine Engineer Officer in HMS Vanguard.

During a later operational tour to Afghanistan he was selected for promotion to Commander.

Having by now spent a significant proportion of his time either at sea or on operations he decided that some time ashore was warranted. He picked a challenging job – Military Assistant to the 2* Director Submarines.  It was in this role he earned a reputation for being able to get the impossible done without complaint from either himself or others.

He subsequently moved into the Submarine Delivery Agency’s Nuclear Propulsion Team, taking the role of Nuclear Propulsion Electrical Technical Lead. He was enthusiastic and well-liked, and was selected for promotion to Captain.

During his time in the service he undertook a tour in Sierra Leone, earning the Operational Service Medal (OSM) as well a tour in Afghanistan where he earned a clasp to the OSM.

Devastated

In his spare time, he would turn his hand to anything and was never happy until he excelled, said the Navy. This led to him playing several musical instruments, including the bagpipes, and becoming an eager fly fisherman, painter and author of poetry.

He died in service aged 44 and is survived by his wife Claire and two children, who live in the Market Drayton area. The family released a statement.

"Jim was a much-loved husband, father and son, and the whole family are utterly devastated by his death. Jim brought us happiness, laughter, love and care and had a patience that is unparalleled," they said.

"For our family he was the person we turned to in times of trouble, our rock, our anchor. Whilst Jim may have excelled in his Naval career his greatest accomplishment was as a father and his calm and understanding approach earned him a relationship with his children that was full of fun, love, respect and admiration.

"Jim has left a gap in our lives that can never be filled."

Commodore Mark Prince, his Commanding Officer, said: “I will always remember Jim as my go-to person when I wanted the view of a military individual or wanted to test my theories on how our 2*+ community thinks before floating an idea/paper and I always sought his counsel on decisions related to my Reactor Plant Authorisee safety role.  He was a rock amongst the team and will be truly missed by all of NP as well as the wider submarine community, both military and civilian.

“Jim was always polite, professional and courteous even when he had the right not to be and his perceived relaxed manner often helped overcome difficult situations in any meetings. He instilled teamworking not by force but rather by empathy, you wanted to work “with him” as part of his team, to support him as an ally and trusted colleague.”

Captain Tom Cheshire, head of the Technical Department and a friend, said: “Jim was a fantastic source of advice and a wonderful friend to talk things through with; work problems discussed with him always seemed less difficult and his sense of humour never failed to bring things into perspective.

"He was a hugely impressive person in every sense, I am a better person for having known him and he will never be forgotten.”

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