Home' Navy News : July 18th 2013 Contents 25
July 18, 2013 www.defence.gov.au/news/NAVYNEWS
ON MARCH 29, the Department of
Defence lost one of its engineering
pioneers and the scientist responsi-
ble for the development and produc-
tion of a world-leading airborne
laser depth sounder, which this year
enters its 20th year of operation with
Mike Penny was an engineer and
scientist with the Defence Science
and Technology Organisation
In 1968, he was selected to bring
together and lead the team that was
developing an airborne laser terrain
profiling system, WREMAPS.
The terrain profiler provided the
height control data to speed up map
production and it was during this
time that the genesis of the laser
airborne depth sounder (LADS)
The success of WREMAPS sup-
ported a laser solution as the most
promising way ahead and project
development commenced with a
staff target for an airborne system
being raised in 1974.
Two more systems were built, the
final of which, called WRELADS II,
had a stabilised platform, a scanning
optical system, a complete data log-
ging capability and a position fixing
By 1984, after 350 development
and testing flights over five years,
the WRELADS II system had dem-
onstrated that it could meet Navy's
depth, accuracy and other require-
A contract was let in 1989 to
produce the system for Navy and Mr
Penny was the technical leader of a
LADS Commonwealth cell during
In 1993 LADS began operations
with Navy in the Great Barrier Reef
and Torres Strait and was accepted
into service on October 8, 1993.
Mr Penny retired from DSTO
in November 1994 after his 60th
birthday. It was his dedication,
persistence and enthusiasm that led
the LADS project to its ultimate
In 1986 Mr Penny received the
Paul McGuire Award for Maritime
Achievement and the Professional
Officers Award of Merit. In 1990
he was awarded the Public Service
Medal and in 1992 he won the
prestigious Clunies Ross National
Science and Technology Award.
During the workup trials of
LADS off Point Lincoln in 1992
the system discovered an uncharted
shoal, which was later named Penny
Mr Penny made a huge contribu-
tion in his career and will always
be remembered as one of the heroes
of DSTO, Defence and defence
Information supplied by Ralph Abbot,
friend and former colleague of Mike
CMDR Ralph Andrew Clements
MacDonald joined the Navy as
a sailor in 1962 and received his
commission at Britannia Royal
Naval College in Dartmouth in
the UK in 1975.
CMDR MacDonald served
in 10 different classes of war-
ships and instructed in two war-
fare training establishments.
An anti-air warfare specialist
(AWS), he developed the initial
RAN Air Control School for
AWS and air intercept control
While staff officer to the
Naval Support Commander,
CMDR MacDonald managed all
Navy's ceremonial and major
events with highlights including
the Coral Sea 50th anniversary
and the visit of Queen Elizabeth
II to Sydney.
had three Senior Officers'
Commendations and was also
honoured by the Simulation
Industry Association of
Australia with the prestigious
Simulation Achievement Award
in 2010, the only such honour
bestowed upon a serviceman.
CMDR MacDonald's last
position was as the maritime
warfare training systems officer
at HMAS Watson where he
was instrumental in establish-
ing the RAN Maritime Warfare
Synthetic Training Capabilities
in 2002, expanding this in 2006
to include persistent connection
to the US Navy.
CMDR MacDonald was
appointed a Member of the
Order of Australia in 1992 for
service to Navy, particularly
as the command support ser-
vices officer of Naval Support
He retired from full-time
service in 2012 after 50 years of
continuous uniformed service.
June 1 after a battle with cancer.
RADM David Guy Holthouse
(retd) lived by what Navy
now acknowledges formally
as its values -- honour, hon-
esty, courage, integrity and loyalty.
These qualities saw him through
three successful careers: in the Navy,
as an international ambassador for the
Australian Stock Exchange and as a
farmer and grazier.
RADM Holthouse was born at Port
Hedland in the Pilbara on January 16,
1936. He joined the RAN College in
1950, a few days after his 14th birthday.
In what others would later call
an exceptional year group, RADM
Holthouse stood out from the start.
Among other attributes, he dis-
played a willingness to have a go at
While most of his term mates fol-
lowed, wisely perhaps, the time hon-
oured military advice to "volunteer for
nothing", RADM Holthouse usually
did the opposite, jumping at the chance
to do what normal people would see as
This was an approach he would
take throughout his career and which
led him to later qualify as a Navy diver
and private pilot and earned him wide-
spread and enduring admiration.
RADM Holthouse performed well
at the college, winning cups for boxing
and diving, being appointed a cadet
captain in his final year and earning
the English prize on graduation. In his
own words, he was a reluctant starter
in naval engineering.
In his second last year at the col-
lege he became mildly short-sighted,
a condition for which a then-inflexible
Navy barred him from being what was
then known as an officer of the Navy's
executive branch. The sense of exclu-
sion that he felt was very real when
this career pathway was suddenly
closed to him.
Eventually the Naval Board agreed
that he could be a mechanical engineer
and the 19-year-old Cadet Midshipman
Holthouse travelled to the UK for five
years of engineering studies with the
He excelled again in his studies
and was awarded the prize for best
all-round officer at the Royal Navy
He was awarded the Queen's
Sword on graduation from HMS
Triumph as the outstanding member of
the whole graduating cadet body for
that year, which was drawn from all
branches of all Commonwealth navies
and curiously also Ethiopia.
No other Australian has won the
Queen's Sword since.
By the time he graduated the Cold
War darkened Australia's strategic
horizon. British nuclear weapon test-
ing was taking place on Australia's
shores and the then-LEUT Holthouse
found himself as one of only three
RAN officers to study nuclear engi-
neering in the UK.
After his studies, sea service with
both the RN and RAN was the domi-
nant element of this period of his life.
His favourite sea posting was
in HMAS Queenborough, which
deployed to the Far East Strategic
Reserve during his time on board.
He served in or near submarines,
had three postings to the Australian
Flagship, HMAS Melbourne, as well
as several RN aircraft carriers, which
gave him excellent training and experi-
ence and many career highlights.
In 1961, RADM Holthouse met
Isobel Mary MacLachlan, known as
Beechie, and they married on June 9,
RADM Holthouse and his wife
returned to the UK the next year for
duties in Scotland at the Yarrow-
Admiralty Research Department,
where he led the design of what was to
have been the RN's last steam-driven
frigate class -- quite a responsibility
and a clear reflection of the abilities of
an officer who was not yet 30.
RADM Holthouse and his wife
returned home in 1965 for a sequence
of Fleet postings, culminating in his
operational service during the Vietnam
War as engineer of the new guided
missile destroyer HMAS Hobart.
Hobart was badly damaged by
friendly fire off Vietnam and repaired
under RADM Holthouse's supervision
at the US Navy's ship repair facility
at Subic Bay in the Philippines, for
which he was recognised with a Naval
Returning home the next year,
RADM Holthouse became Director
Fleet Maintenance, enjoyed a short
secondment to the Department of the
Prime Minister and Cabinet and as
Equerry to the King of Nepal, before
taking up his last seagoing posting as
engineer in HMAS Supply.
Supply quietly supported a Royal
New Zealand Navy frigate express-
ing the New Zealand Government's
displeasure at French nuclear testing at
Mururoa Atoll in 1974 and ended that
year in Darwin on Christmas Day with
the immediate disaster relief activities
after Cyclone Tracy.
RADM Holthouse returned home
to be promoted to rear admiral in
1987, the highest rank achievable by a
serving engineer officer in the RAN.
He was appointed an Officer in the
Order of Australia in 1991 and retired
from full-time service in 1993 after
a career of 43 years and more than
30 family moves. He spent two more
years in the Navy Reserve.
RADM Holthouse started and
finished his life on the land. In 1989,
he bought a grazing property in the
Braidwood district in NSW and
became a successful fine wool merino
This third career lasted nearly 25
years, and during that time, he enjoyed
the hard work and physical labour that
made the property into something he
could be proud of.
RADM Holthouse died on May
31, just a few months after his beloved
wife Isobel who died on March 17.
Their 50-year partnership was
strong, robust and committed and after
Isobel died, he said he realised that all
he had done, in his career and in their
many homes together, was really for her.
RADM Holthouse and his wife
are survived by their children, Guy
(a captain in the RAN) and Victoria,
daughter-in-law Lucy and grandchil-
dren Isabelle and Madeleine.
Abridged version of eulogy provided by
The late RADM David Holthouse (retd) had a
long and exceptional career that epitomised
HONOURED: Naval members carry the late
CMDR Ralph Andrew Clements MacDonald's
casket after his funeral service on June 6 at
Photo: ABIS Cassie McBride
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