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Obituary: John Hervey (C2 1942-45)

The placid Paisley silk-weavers who were the ancestors of Rear Admiral John Hervey would have blanched at the daring tasks his twentieth-century naval overlords asked him to do.

As a commander of nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines, Hervey was one of a select body of modern British buccaneers who in the 1960s and 1970s stealthily explored the Arctic, gleaning high-quality intelligence on the then Soviet Union’s sea-power when, Hervey later explained, “they think no-one else is around.”

It meant trailing the Russian vessels up close – so close that with the limitations of the sonar equipment the British boats carried, together with the restrictions on its use that silent snooping imposed, the risk of collision and an unmarked, deliberately forgotten, watery grave was ever present.

The rewards were deemed worth the risk. Hervey was made OBE in 1970 for his command of the submarine HMS Warspite, in which, in 1968 and 1969, he and his crew obtained valuable and highly secret information.

Taken from the obituary featured in The Scotsman.