Sam Salt

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James 'Sam' Salt
Nickname(s) "Sam"
Born (1940-04-19)19 April 1940
Died 3 December 2009(2009-12-03) (aged 69)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service 1958–97
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands held HMS Southampton (1983–84)
HMS Sheffield (1982)
HMS Dreadnought (1978–79)
HMS Finwhale (1969–71)
Battles/wars Falklands War
Gulf War
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath

Rear Admiral James Frederick Thomas George "Sam" Salt, CB (19 April 1940 – 3 December 2009) was a senior Royal Navy officer of the late twentieth century. He was the Captain of HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War, the first British warship to be sunk by enemy action since the end of the Second World War.[1]

Early life[edit]

James Salt was born on 19 April 1940 in Yeovil in the county of Somerset.[2] His mother was named Lillian, and he was the son of a Royal Naval officer, Lieutenant Commander George S. Salt, who had been lost in action six months before his son's birth while in command of the submarine HMS Triad during the Second World War.[3][4]

Naval career[edit]

Salt received his early education at Wellington College, in the county of Berkshire. On enlisting in the Royal Navy he received a commission as an officer after passing through the Britannia Royal Naval College (1958–59).

After an early career on surface vessels in the 1960s, Salt volunteered for the sub-surface duty in which his father had lost his life, commanding the submarine HMS Finwhale (1969–71), executive officer of HMS Resolution (1973–74), and commanding HMS Dreadnought (1978–79).[5]

Falklands War[edit]

Salt was in command of the destroyer HMS Sheffield on 4 May 1982 when she was attacked and destroyed by Argentinian naval aircraft whilst on patrol in the South Atlantic Ocean during the war over the contested sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.[6]

Senior command[edit]

After the Falklands War he commanded the destroyer HMS Southampton. In the mid-1980s his sea-going career came to an end and he became a Naval Staff Officer, holding the post of Assistant Chief of Staff (Operations) at Northwood; Director of Defence Intelligence (1986–87), at which time he was elevated to admiral's rank, and was subsequently the senior Naval representative at the Royal College of Defence Studies. While he was Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff he was responsible for the Royal Navy's planning for the execution of the Gulf War.[7]


After he retired from the navy in 1997, Salt worked in a managerial capacity in a number of defence-related export, sales and marketing roles in the private sector, retiring from this work in 2005. Salt died in his 69th year on 3 December 2009.[8]

Personal life[edit]

He married Penelope in 1975, and had four sons.[9]


  1. ^
  2. ^ 'The Guardian' obituary, 10 December 2009.
  3. ^ HMS Triad (N 53),, accessed Dec. 16, 2015.
  4. ^ Obituary for Rear-Admiral Sam Salt, The Telegraph, December 6, 2009.
  5. ^ 'Daily Telegraph' Obituary, 6 December 2009.
  6. ^
  7. ^ 'The Guardian' obituary, 10 December 2009.
  8. ^
  9. ^ 'Daily Telegraph' obituary, 6 December 2009.