FORMER nuclear submarine captain Mike Gilbert, pictured, has died of cancer after a short illness. Cdr Gilbert, who went on to become Queen's Harbour Master in Plymouth, was chairman of Maritime Plymouth, a federation of local marine-based industries, until he fell ill. He leaves behind a wife, Jackie, and two daughters by his first marriage. His first wife Annette died of cancer about five years ago. Charles Howeson, chairman of Plymouth Economic Development Group, said Cdr Gilbert died in St Luke's Hospice this week. "Mike was a distinguished submariner at the height of the Cold War," Mr Howeson, also a former naval commander, said yesterday. "He was then selected to train other nuclear submarine officers, a post that few people are qualified to hold. "His final naval job â€“ at his own request â€“ was to be Queen's Harbour Master in Plymouth, where he broke the mould. He encouraged cruise liners to come to Plymouth. "Mike was a can-do man. He was much loved by everyone who dealt with him, and an excellent listener. He was everyone's friend and an excellent diplomat. "He came to Mount Batten Watersports Centre as chief executive under my chairmanship, and was then the regional chairman of Groundwork, and deputy chairman of our newly emerging Drake (Community) Foundation for Plymouth," Mr Howeson said. "He went on to become chairman of Maritime Plymouth and in that capacity was on the Plymouth Economic Development Group. "We will all miss his good humour, and great contribution to the life of this city's third sector, as well as the down-to-earth good sense that we were used to receiving from him in all the business and commercial ventures in which he had an involvement." Cdr Gilbert was believed to be in his early 60s and lived in Saltash. "He was a very special man," Mr Howeson said. Council leader Vivien Pengelly said: "I worked with him at Mount Batten. He was really keen to put maritime Plymouth on the map and it's sad to hear that he has died. Mike Gilbert gave a lot and he will be badly missed. "He did a lot to get big races into Plymouth and was really enthusiastic about everything he did in connection with the sea." Ted Fry, deputy leader of the ruling Conservative group on Plymouth City Council, said: "He will be sadly missed. "He made enormously valuable contributions." City opposition leader Tudor Evans said: "Mike Gilbert was passionate about Plymouth making the most of its maritime heritage. What drove him most of all was making sure that Plymouth had a strong maritime future. "I just want to say how sorry I am to hear of his death." R.I.P.