International expert on marine safety and survival at sea
Frank Golden: June 5th, 1936-January 5th, 2014
Frank Golden came to be recognised as a worldwide authority on sea survival and was invited to lecture in a multitude of countries to naval, aviation, scientific and recreational groups.
Frank Golden, who has died aged 77, was a Cork-born doctor who became a leading international expert on marine safety and survival at sea.
The sixth of seven children of Henry and Nora (née Murphy) Golden, he was educated at Presentation Brothers College, (“Pres”) and University College Cork, a stone’s throw from his home on Magazine Road.
At Pres and later at UCC he was a regular on the rugby first XV.
Standing six foot, four inches, he was a lineout specialist and captained UCC to win the Cork Charity Cup in 1960. His undergraduate career was academically unexceptional, in contrast to his postgraduate achievements, which can only be described as stellar.
After internship in Cork, Golden became an assistant in general practice in the UK, where he met his future wife, Jenny Beard.
After a couple of years he joined the Royal Navy on a short-term commission, a decision he said was taken on the advice of his bank manager.
An early posting was as medical officer on HMS Jaguar, a frigate engaged in a courtesy voyage around the world.
He liked to recall a friendly rugby match in Kenya in which he went to the aid of a shipmate outnumbered in an “altercation” and was sent off.
The following day he was reprimanded by his commanding officer for “conduct unbecoming to a gentleman and an officer in Her Majesty’s Navy”.
He observed later that neither the referee nor the commanding officer knew anything of the etiquette of Munster Cup rugby, where he had cut his teeth.
At the naval air station in Culdrose in Cornwall he became involved in air sea rescues – the Torrey Canyon supertanker grounding in 1967 being one such event. He was frustrated by the lack of medical knowledge relating to the urgent management of survivors, who frequently succumbed while being winched up to the helicopter or died shortly afterwards in the aircraft.
He enrolled for a PhD in applied physiology at Leeds University, studying the effects of cold immersion on the body. The results of his research helped provide lifesaving strategies for seamen, including development and testing of protective equipment.
He came to be recognised as a worldwide authority on sea survival and was invited to lecture in a multitude of countries to naval, aviation, scientific and recreational groups.
Undoubtedly, the lives of many seafarers have been saved as a result of his energy and application. He retired from the navy in 1993 with the rank of surgeon rear admiral but went on to lecture and continue his research at Portsmouth University alongside Prof Michael Tipton, with whom he wrote Essentials of Sea Survival in 2002.
He received multiple awards, including an OBE, and held many honorary appointments – physician to her majesty the queen, lecturer in applied physiology at the universities of Leeds, Sheffield and Portsmouth, consultant to several UK government departments and to the RAF, fellow of the Nautical Institute and Brother of the Order of St John.
He appeared as a guest expert on the BBC, ITV and Discovery channels.
He died peacefully at home in Gosport, Hampshire, after a period of illness borne with fortitude and resignation. He is survived by his wife, Jenny, sister, Catherine, brother, Finbarr, sons Dominic and Damien, daughter, Clare, daughter-in-law Maxine, and son-in-law Tim, and by his five grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on March 21st .