Long-serving Vice President of the NSW Division of the Navy League, Keith Martin Adams AM, passed away after a long battle with cancer on 15 November 2013.
Born in Mosman on 16 December 1927, Keith began a career in science in the research laboratories of the Royal North Shore Hospital. He began work with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in 1952, studying antibody responses to various injected antigens. This work included trials with some strains of the influenza virus and some pox viruses. The studies led to large-scale cultivation of the viruses and, in particular, the myxoma virus, a highly contagious virus to rabbits with a high mortality rate.
In 1960 Keith took up a research post with the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and University of Miami Medical School in the United States, moving his young family to Florida for two years. During that time he established two tissue-culture laboratories and introduced research studies into the cultivation and study of leukemic blood cells. He also won a place in the Harvard Medical School in Boston to attend the accelerated course in pathology.
Keith returned to the CSIRO in 1963 and continued work with the myxoma virus which was eventually released to the wild rabbit populations which plagued many parts of Australia with devastating results. Between 1970 and 1972, along with an officer from the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife service, Keith was responsible for the release of the myxoma virus to control rabbits on Macquarie Island, a sub-Antarctic island and research post of the Australian Antarctic Division.
In 1976 Keith was seconded to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra where he became the Executive Secretary of the Marine Sciences and Technologies Committee (AMSTAC) which was part of the Australian Science Technology Council (ASTEC). His duties included the preparation of reports and studies and advice to the Government on future directions of marine activities. As Science Advisor he was involved in the preparation and presentation of a submission in support of the provision of a national oceanographic research vessel and was a member and secretary of the steering committee for the construction of the research vessel. RV Franklin was built by NQEA in Cairns in 1985 and was based at the Marine Science Laboratories in Hobart.
On returning to the CSIRO Keith was appointed to oversee the construction of the new Marine Science Laboratories in Hobart. He was also tasked with moving the CSIRO Marine Laboratories from Cronulla in NSW to Hobart.
Keith retired from the CSIRO and government service in 1987. During his scientific career he published as author or co-author some 30 papers and reports and a number of reviews of scientific programs.
After 1989 Keith undertook a range of tasks, such as consultant to the Director of Marketing of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Executive Manager reporting to the Managing Director of ABC Datacast and company secretary of the Australian subsidiary of an American IT company.
Throughout his life Keith Adams loved the sea, a passion which crept into his working life before and after retirement. For over 40 years Keith was an active member of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve, commencing as a Naval Cadet in his youth and in due course becoming an officer in the Naval Reserve. His duties in the RANR included reporting on training activities at the RAN’s Gunnery School at HMAS Cerberus, Commanding Officer of the Naval Reserve Cadets and the implementation of new training methods at HMAS Nirimba. He also reviewed the RAN Hydrographic Services offices and facilities and subsequently made recommendations for the relocation and upgrading of those facilities.
On 26 January 1980 Commander Keith Adams RFD RANR was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to the Naval Reserve Cadets.
In retirement Keith continued his interest in the Naval Reserve Cadets and the Navy more generally through his involvement with the Navy League of Australia.
In 1995 Keith Adams joined the Australian Division of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects as Executive Officer for the Australian Division Council. It was a time of reorganisation of the Council and the Australian Division to make it more relevant to the changing times and the widespread membership throughout Australia. Keith was also a member of the organising committee for the Pacific series of International Maritime Conferences, an involvement he continued after he retired from his position in 2009 until advancing ill health finally forced him to take a lower profile.
Keith is survived by Shirley, his wife for more than 60 years, his daughters Elizabeth and Jane and son Stephen, and seven grand children.
– John Jeremy, with the help of Keith’s family.