Death of Dr. J. Clair Callaghan

The Dalhousie website is carrying an ‘In Memoriam” announcement for Dr. J. Clair Callaghan. Dr. Callaghan, a past president of the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS), passed away peacefully at his Halifax home on Thursday, September 26. He was 80 years old.

Dr. Callaghan had an impressive career in the professional and academic engineering worlds. His connection to this website, in addition to his long and distinguished affiliation with Dalhousie, is that he held patents for the Helicopter Haul-Down system (a.k.a. “the Bear-Trap”) used by the Royal Canadian Navy and many other naval services and coast guards around the world. The United States Navy adopted his invention, where it is known as the RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse) system. The RAST (or Bear Trap) is manufactured by INDAL Technologies in Mississauga, Ontario.

Dr. Callaghan’s invention had a profound influence on the conduct of naval operations worldwide. His is probably the single most-important invention in the history of the Royal Canadian Navy and was fundamental to establishing Canada’s naval reputation as expert at the operation of heavy anti-submarine helicopters off of relatively small frigates, often is unbelievably rough seas. Dr. Callaghan deserves to be remembered in Canadian naval history as a central figure that made a major and lasting contribution to the naval service of Canada and many other countries.