In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar


Keith Gordon Nesbit


Captain (N), RCN / C.A.F.


Born: 20 Nov 1941


Died: 12 Nov 2020, Virginia Beach, VA, USA


NESBIT, Keith Gordon - Captain, Royal Canadian Navy, (Ret’d), - 12 November 2020 of lung cancer.


Predeceased by his father, Captain Francis Gordon Nesbit (British Merchant Navy) and mother Olive, of Newcastle, England.


He held the nationalities of the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Keith Nesbit was raised in the UK and western Canada, to where his family emigrated in 1951. He attended schools in Oak Bay, British Columbia and in 1960 joined the RCN’s VENTURE Training Plan. From 1962, upon commissioning, he served in Canadian frigates, destroyers and – principally - submarines. While at port in Honolulu in 1965, Keith met Joan E. Mullin, and two years later they married in San Francisco. Their family of five children followed, and were thereafter referred to as, “The Blessings”.


In 1975, having passed the Royal Navy’s infamous “Perisher” course, he commanded Canada’s newest submarine, HMCS Okanagan, and subsequently was Commander, First Canadian Submarine Squadron.


His last tour of duty was at SACLANT Headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, after which he and Joan retired in Virginia Beach. Keith considered his 36 years of Naval service to have been a break in a musical career. Having performed in Victoria, B.C. as a jazz/rock pianist-organist in the 1950’s, he resumed that career in Hampton Roads. He has since performed in many local venues, in solo and multi-instrument roles. He performed at Norfolk’s famed Painted Lady restaurant for eleven years, with Chespeake’s Word Alive Christian Center for eighteen years, and was accompanist to popular local jazz vocalist Becky Livas since 2012.


Keith was grateful for the strength which can be provided by a close-knit, loving family, and that strength was most evident during the 5 months he had to face the challenges posed by lung cancer. He is survived by his loving wife, Joan, five children: K.G., Paul, Barry, Shivonne, and Meghan; seven grandchildren: Liam, Fiona, Johannah, Seamus, Amelia, Sophia, and Kaela; and three daughters-in-law: Stephanie, Christine and Tara. He is also survived by an older sister, Valerie, a younger brother, Rod and his wife, Val, and a brother-in-law, Michael Mullin.


Keith wished to express his sincere thanks for having had the opportunity to serve proudly with so many Canadian and international submariners, and for the wonderful encouragement and support he received from many fine Hampton Roads musicians.


A family-oriented Celebration of Life will be scheduled at a future date.



Keith's ashes were committed to the sea from HMCS SACKVILLE on 05 May 2024


Submariner Historical Note: When he was CO of HMCS OKANAGAN, Keith Nesbit was responsible for developing the "Dolphin Code"



Ships served in:





HMCS ONONDAGA - 12th Commanding Officer

HMCS OKANAGAN - 11th Commanding Officer

CANCOMSUBRON ONE - Jul 1983 - Dec 1984



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