Family and colleagues have paid tribute to a Wiltshire-based Royal Navy officer who died in service.

Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith, also known as Rich, who was based in the Upavon area, died on October 26, aged 38.

The Royal Navy says his cause of death is now a matter for the coroner.

His family has paid tribute to him and spoke of his pride in serving the military.

In a statement, they said: “Rich was a loving and devoted husband and father to our two sons; he was incredibly proud to serve in the Royal Navy. We miss him immensely.

“We request privacy at this time.”

For the last couple of years, Richard had been working on major programmes and projects for Defence Infrastructure Organisation facilities management requirements.

He joined the unit on August 9, 2022, and had been the sole Royal Navy representative on the team.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Lt Cdr Richard SmithLt Cdr Richard Smith (Image: Royal Navy)

Richard was described as somebody who “represented the ethos and values of the Royal Navy” and embedded these values into all the contracts that touched the service.

He was “driven and dedicated” to deliver the best possible outcomes in his work and to help shape a better offering for service personnel in the future.

Colleagues referred to Rich as “logical and focused”, but they also found him “witty and engaging” as he loved to share stories and laugh with them.

He was a “very much loved and respected” member of the team, who are all greatly “shocked and saddened” by his passing.

Helen Taylor, DIO portfolio director, said: “Richard was such a valuable, respected, and loved member of the team and we are all devastated at his loss.

“Our sincere condolences go to his family.”

Before joining DIO, Richard served as a divisional officer at Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, in Devon, where he built “strong and lasting friendships” through his humour and “supportive character.”

Those who served alongside Richard are “devastated” at the loss of a “fantastic officer.”

Lt Daniel Crotty, of the Royal Navy, said: “Lt Cdr Smith was a Divisional Officer at BRNC Dartmouth where in addition to guiding so many new recruits, he formed strong and lasting friendships.

“To put it simply, if you knew Dickie, he was a lovely man.”

Lt Col Mark Howard-Harwood added: “Lt Cdr Smith was an exceptional officer, colleague and friend.

“He had a kind word for everyone that he met, a keen sense of humour and at heart, a family man.

“He was a pleasure to work with and I really miss not having him with us.”