Described by Captain Hart-Dyke as an excellent officer who had been responsible for the success of the Sea Dart system, Rodney was born in Brighton on 23rd January 1948. He attended school there at the Brighton & Hove Grammar School. All that sea air had some effect and Rodney joined the RN in 1965, serving at HMS Collingwood before sea drafts on HMS Ulster, HMS Gurkha and HMS Sheffield before some time ashore and finally joining HMS Coventry in 1979. He had spent much of his recent career ‘writing the book’ on the Sea Dart system – how to maintain and operate it, and the system’s success in circumstances it had never been designed to cope with was in no small part due to his efforts. He was a popular officer known as ‘Rod’ or ‘Black Rod’ and enjoyed various sports including squash and was also keen on cars, having restored an E-type Jaguar. Rod was killed in the computer room, below the Ops room.
I served with Rod on HMS Sheffield in 1976-78. We played squash together and he was an accomplished player. Rod was a really nice guy and a very professional CPO. It was very sad to see that he had died in the attack on HMS Coventry.
Rod and I joined up as tiffies together and I remember him at Collingwood during our training.
We were both categorised “Control” and followed the same path where he seemed to do very well. He was keen to make the most of any career opportunities.
In the mid 70’s we met again on HMS Sheffield as she was being built by Vickers in Barrow in Furness.
By this time, we were both CPO’s and I got to know him a lot better. By this time he was looking to become an officer.
You could not find a nicer gentleman to have as a mess mate and he certainly knew his stuff, being in charge of the Seadart Firing System at the time.
It was quite a shock to hear that he was killed on HMS Coventry as he had finally climbed the ladder to being an Officer. He certainly contributed to the success of that ship in the Falklands War, and it was a promising career cut short in a tragic manner.
There is no doubt he would have gone much further, and he was one of the good guys.
George Birkett and Tony Babb.
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In 2022, as part of the 40th Anniversary commemorations, geographical features were identified and named after the fallen of 1982. HEATH PASSAGE is found between Steeple Jason Islet and Grand Jason in the Jason Islands group, West Falkland.
It is in position
51° 03′ 40.89″ S, 061° 08′ 47.48″ W