Rear Admiral Ronald Rex Calder

Ronald Rex Calder was born on 18 August 1930 at Gladesville, NSW but grew up in Malvern, South Australia. He was a student at Adelaide University, undertaking engineering studies, when he entered the Royal Australian Navy as a probationary Sub Lieutenant on 15 March 1949. Initially he was posted to the South Australian shore base HMAS Torrens to complete his Bachelor of Engineering studies, which he did in early 1950. Calder was promoted to Lieutenant in March 1950 and undertook a brief period of training, at HMAS Cerberus, before proceeding to the United Kingdom in June to complete the Post Graduate Electrical Officers Course.

Upon return from Britain in mid-1952 he served in the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney until the end of the year and then joined the destroyer HMAS Tobruk in February 1953. Calder served in Tobruk, as the Electrical Engineer Officer, until early 1955 which included operational service in Korean waters from June 1953 until February 1954; including the last month of hostilities before the Armistice was signed on 27 July 1953. He then served at HMAS Cerberus, during 1955-56, as a Year Officer and instructor at the RAN College. During 1957 he served at HMAS Lonsdale and HMAS Kuttabul on the staff of the Equipment Trials Unit.

He was the Weapons Electrical Engineer Officer in the destroyer HMAS Voyager from December 1957 until July 1959 during which time the ship deployed to Southeast Asia as part of the Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR). Calder was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in March 1958. From July 1959 until September 1961 he served at HMAS Cerberus and was attached to the staff at West Head Gunnery Range.

In 1962, Calder was Assistant Superintendent Weapons Engineering at Garden Island Dockyard before proceeding overseas to attend the United States Armed Forces Staff College. He was then promoted to Acting Commander in July 1963 and posted to the Office of the Australian Naval Attache (Washington) as the Staff Officer Guided Missile Destroyer Project, which oversaw the construction of the three Charles F Adams class guided missile destroyers for the RAN. Calder was confirmed in the rank of Commander in June 1965.

In 1966 Commander Calder was appointed as commissioning Weapons Electrical Engineer Officer for the third guided missile destroyer; which was commissioned as HMAS Brisbane in December 1967. Brisbane conducted an operational deployment to Vietnamese waters during April-October 1969 during which time the ship fired over 7800 rounds of 5-inch ammunition at shore targets. Commander Calder was subsequently awarded a Naval Board Commendation for his services in Brisbane during this deployment.

Calder was then posted to Garden Island Dockyard as the Superintendent Weapons Engineering during 1970-1972. He was promoted to Captain in December 1972 and served at Navy Office, in Canberra, as the Director Naval Equipment Production (1972-1974) and Director Naval Industrial Policy (1974-1976). In 1977 Captain Calder became the Director Naval Weapons Design.

On Australia Day 1979, Captain Calder was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of services to the Royal Australian Navy, particularly as Director of Naval Weapons Design. Calder was promoted Commodore in June 1979 and appointed as Director General Naval Production in Navy Office, Canberra. In May 1983 he was promoted Rear Admiral and appointed as Chief of Naval Engineering. This was a busy period for the RAN with the ongoing introduction into service of the guided missile frigates, Fremantle class patrol boats and the new tanker HMAS Success.

Rear Admiral Calder was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in June 1986 in recognition of services to the RAN, particularly as the Chief of Naval Engineering. He retired from the RAN in early 1987 after 38 years of service.

Rear Admiral Ronald Calder passed away at Bateau Bay, NSW on 14 August 2014.