Founding Fathers, and a brief history to 1976
Shoran - was
developed as a SHOrt RANge bombing and navigation system
for the USAF by RCA (Radio Corporation of America). Last used
operationally in this capacity during the Korean conflict.
Some of the brief résumé's below are
mainly from the obituaries columns of the New Orleans press.
L Suggs was a founder of International Offshore
Navigation Inc, and served as president. He also was
instrumental in the founding of
Raydist Inc, and served as its president, too. He was also
co-founder of Petroleum Helicopters Inc. He holds a
bachelors degree from Texas A & M University, and a masters
degree from California Institute of Technology. He was the
recipient of the Kossler Award from the American Helicopter
Society - the highest honor awarded by that Society - and
served as president of the Helicopter Association of America.
M Bayon, co-founder of ONI and former chairman of Petroleum
Helicopters Inc, an operator of commercial
A native Louisianan, Maurice graduated from Tulane University Law School
and commanded a ground unit providing
support to elements of the Army Air Forces in World War II. He won the
In 1946, he co-founded Offshore Navigation Inc, a radio navigation
business supporting oil exploration in the Gulf
In 1949, he and Robert L Suggs contracted to provide helicopter services
to Shell Oil and then founded Petroleum Helicopters Inc, in the same
year. The company began with three helicopters, grew quickly and
operated more than
400 helicopters for a time, but encountered some difficulties in the
1980's. Mr Bayon retired from both companies
De Lerno, a retired businessman and former
President and CEO of Offshore Navigation, Inc., died December 23, 2008.
He was 84. Mr. De Lerno was a lifelong resident of New Orleans. He
served in the U. S. Navy in World War II, and was commissioned in the U.
S. Air Force Reserve in 1950, where he retired with the rank of Major.
He was a graduate of Tulane University's School of Engineering. Mr. De
Lerno was a parishioner of St. Francis Xavier Church, where he was
Chairman of the Board of Religious Education in 1976 and President of
the School Board in 1982. He was the YMCA Outstanding Tutor of the year
in 1992 and 1993. He served on the Board of YMCA's Operation Mainstream
and on the Board of Strive, Inc., where he was Treasurer. In 1995-1996,
he was the President of the New Orleans Chapter of Freedoms Foundation
at Valley Forge. Mr. De Lerno was honored by the St. Elizabeth's Guild
in 1999 as a Volunteer Activist, and received the Spirit of '76 award
from Freedoms Foundation the same year. He was a Docent for the National
D-Day Museum from its opening in 2000 until 2005.
was ONI's long term Vice President in charge of the Eastern Hemisphere,
and later, after George Roussel resigned, its President. Joe resigned in
1946, ONI, worked for every major oil & exploration company in the
world. Significant milestones are presented briefly in the
The first office was in the
Hibernia Bank building, New Orleans. The first shop was in a private
garage on Joseph Street. Later in 1946, ONI moved to its first home
at 3503 Fern Street, in the Garden District of New Orleans.
Growing pains caused by
expansion necessitated an addition, resulting in the leasing of several
In October, 1965, ONI
moved to 5728 Jefferson Highway, Harahan, New Orleans. There were
modifications and additions to that building over the years.
3503 Fern Street, in
A familiar sight to
Early base station,
it says! Seems they went downhill from
here, apart from the mast, this
apparently being of plywood construction
first Shoran base stations were installed at Grand Isle and Leeville,
Louisiana, for the first clients: the California Company (later, Chevron
Oil Co) in July, and Continental Oil Company in October 1946. Personnel
from that first year were, Bob Suggs (whose inspiration it all was),
Maurice Bayon, John Hurley, George Roussel, Joe DeLerno Jr, John
Coffman, Fred Wood, Louis Conner, Jim Castell, Les Schroeder and Ray
subsidiary company, Overseas Navigation Inc, was formed in the latter
part of 1946 to provide Shoran services for a nine month aerial
magnetometer survey of the Bahamas, starting in March, 1947. For that
operation, ONI started acquisition of a fleet of 85 and 110 foot vessels
that it was to operate for several years.
owned and operated vessel
participated in the Bahamas
Shoran survey vessel to operate in the Gulf
of Mexico for seismic exploration. It
was also the training ship for Mobile Operators
65ft masts, this was one of the
Mobil base stations. It was lost
a hurricane in 1947
The following are slightly edited versions of
articles which ran in the Oil & Gas Journal during the 1946/47 era,
relating to the Search for oil and mineral deposits around the Bahamas.
This has to be the very
beginnings of ONI, the initials of which, at the time, stood for
Overseas Navigation Inc.
The material was supplied by Dr Thomas J Carter,
whose father Luke, worked with ONI at the time, and Doug Morrison, ex
Aero Service, and who is researching the history of International Aero
Being scans of scans from original newsprint, some
of the photo reproduction is of very low quality, although the pictures are of
some significance to the ONI story. Interesting to see photos of a young
Jim Strayhorn - with whom I worked in Spain in 1964 - Bob Suggs, and
Perhaps you can recognize
others in some of the pictures.
A method of high-precision position finding in aerial
navigation and mapping
Developed during the
war and used for determining a plane's position with reference io a given
ground point on blind bombing missions, Shoran is arousing considerable
interest among oil men as to its possible applications to aerial
geological observation, surveying, and mapping work in inaccessible
terrain. This is a digest of a paper first presented before the American
Institute of Electrical Engineers at New York, and later discussed before
the Society of Exploration Geo-physicists at Chicago and the San Antonio
meeting of the A.I.E.E.
Although Shoran (Army Radar AN/APN-3 and AN/CPN-2) is a
contraction of the words >Short=
and >Range' it has given
satisfactory performance to distances of 250 miles. It is used for
high-precision position finding in aerial navigation. The original
research work was started, in the fall of 1938 by Radio Corp of America
(RCA), which, later turned
it over to the military. It finally came into its own as a war weapon in
December 1944 in Italy. The extreme accuracy of distance determination
attracted the attention of the army geodetic and mapping groups. Tests in
Florida (in ideal conditions!) proved
that the probable error of distance measurement by this method was
something less than 50 ft out to the-limit of its range (about 250 miles).
As a result of the interest shown,
the equipment is being used today for establishing control points with
'"first order survey accuracy" at very great distances. (Note -
"First Order Survey Accuracy" may be roughly defined as accurate
to approximately 1 ft in 5 miles)
Shoran as related to the
For this work a ground station is established at each
point to be located and a plane flown back and forth across the line
between any two such points. The average minimum sum of the distances
between the plane and each, ground station, as indicated by a photographic
recorder for each line crossing, gives the true distance between the two
The comparative simplicity of surveying a line from,
say, Chicago to Kansas City to Amarillo in only two jumps can be imagined.
For a survey of that route, three ground stations would be used, one at
each, of the three cities, and. 10 or 20 flights back and forth across the
approximate center of each line would be required.
Except for one consideration, it would be unnecessary
for any individual to set foot upon the intervening terrain. For first
order accuracy survey work, to allow for the effect of climatic conditions
on propagation velocity and on the refraction of the radio waves between
plane and ground, sounding balloon or other types of atmospheric
determinations along the path are necessary.
Nevertheless, the simplicity and rapidity with which
unmapped portions of the earth can be brought into survey control with
equipment of this type is little short of amazing.
Using the two-distance "fix" method used by
Shoran to locate a position in flight, the airplane equipment transmits a
series of short pulses of radio frequency energy to each of a pair of
ground stations. These in turn immediately retransmit the received signals
back to the plane, where the round-trip time is measured in terms of
In operation the plane flies in either direction on an
arc around one of the ground stations. The radius of the arc is equal to
the station-to-target distance. Since either ground station may be used as
the center of the flight path, four approach headings toward a target are
With normal station-to-target distances, the curvature
of the target-run path is relatively slight. A refined type of pilot
direction indicator meter makes it possible to keep the plane on its arc
path with deviations less than the span of the plane wings.
If the geographic locations of the ground stations, as
well as those of all possible targets are accurately known, the geodetic
problems connected with Shoran operations are relatively simple of
solution. When the exact locations of targets are not known, Shoran
reconnaissance photography will reveal their coordinates.
The ruggedness and relative simplicity of operation of
a Shoran system, together with the freedom from equipment failures In
combat use, are all remarkable in view of the extreme precision of the
The Aircraft Equipment: The
monitor - timing and indicating device - is the most vital part of the
system. This unit permits regulation of the timing of the transmitted
pulses in such manner that the signal returned, by re-transmission from
the ground arrives back at the plane receiver and makes its appearance on
the cathode-ray screen coincidentally with the fixed, or so-called to
marker indication. The adjustment necessary to effect this coincidence is
calibrated in miles and decimal portions, and the mileage indications are
read from the dial settings.
The pulse-timing function is duplicated in the
indicator unit to allow for simultaneous distance measurements from two
ground stations. At the bottom are two large 100-mile dials. At the left
of each dial is a veeder-type counter, the three digits of which indicate
miles, tenths of a mile, and hundredths of a mile. Estimation for the
nearest one one-thousandth of a mile is possible.
It is possible to operate many planes in the air at
once and have them all use the same pair of ground stations. This is
accomplished by an adjustment in the commutator that makes it impossible
for two plane equipments interrogating a common ground station to stay
synchronized for more than a small, fraction of a second, in spite of the
fact that their interrogation rates are precisely the same.
The trace on the cathode ray tube is circular. A throw
of a switch changes the deflection 'rate from a 1 to a 10, to a 100-mile
scale. For navigational purposes, out to the initial point of a target
run, the 100-mile scale is adequate. All traces on the oscilloscope are
blanked out when using the 1 or 10-mile scales, except for the particular
1 or 10-mile interval containing the time.
The plane receiver controls are on the separate oblong
panel, top centre. This receiver can be withdrawn and replaced in a matter
of seconds in case of defective operation. All connections, with the
exception of the antenna, are made through sliding contacts and are thus
automatically broken and. reestablished when the unit is removed and
replaced. The transmitter generates the signals radiated under control of
the timing and indicating unit. It is usually mounted in some
out-of-the-way position in the plane, since there are no adjustments that
need attention while in flight.
The antenna for radiating the transmitter power is of
the stub type and is mounted vertically either above or below the
fuselage. The antenna proper is somewhat unconventional and consists of a
center rod extending approximately, one-eighth wave length beyond a
one-eighth wave grounded, concentric sleeve. The entire assembly is about
12 in. in length. In operation the antenna has relatively broad band
characteristics and produces a low order of standing wave ratios on the
50-ohm transmission feed line throughout the transmitter frequency range.
The plane receiving antenna is of the same type
construction, but is somewhat shorter
in over-all length, since it receives signals from the ground stations,
which transmit on approximately 310 megacycles.
Lengths of interconnecting cables between units and
between the transmitter and receiver and their respective antennas have an
effect on the total time spent by pulse energy in traversing all of the
plane equipment circuits. Therefore each plane installation must be
compensated by a process which involves sending of test signals around the
complete loop and making the necessary corrections in the position of the
marker pulse. (A calibration, was what we called it!)
A ground installation consists essentially of four
principal units. These are the receiver-monitor, the transmitter, the
antenna arrays, and a
power supply. The complete equipment is air transportable and can be flown
to a known location and put into operation within 90 minutes after
arrival. (Oh yeah!)
The primary function of the ground equipment is to
receive, reshape, and retransmit all pulses arriving at the location on
the particular wave length to which the receiver is tuned. The elapsed,
time between the arrival of a signal at the receiving antenna and the
radiation of the resultant pulse from the transmitting antenna must be
accurately adjusted to a fixed standard time interval. That adjustment, as
well as others necessary for proper operation of the installation, is
performed with, the aid of the monitor portion of the monitor-receiver
The receiver is identical to and interchangeable with
the receiver in a plane. It has a continuously adjustable tuning range
between. 210 and 320 megacycles,
The transmitter is very similar to that used in a
plane. However, when serving a larger number of planes, it has a much
higher duty cycle, and the modulator circuits are therefore made heavier
to handle that load. While the average plate power in a plane transmitter'
is 30 watts during operation, the ground transmitter may be developing as
much as 400 watts. The transmitting and receiving antennas are supported
on a 50-ft sectionalized plywood mast.
monitor; for those with poor memory
water tower control station
Catalina antenna installation
Airborne Magnetometer Survey of Bahamas to Start Soon
With an aerial oil-exploration program which
conceivably could open up areas of investigation which have heretofore
been considered inaccessible, Aero Service Corp, shortly will commence a
50,000 to 80,000-sq. mile airborne magnetometer
survey of the entire Bahamas area.
The survey, estimated to cost approximately $650,000,
will be carried out by Anglo-Bahamian Petroleum Co (Anglo-Iranian Oil);
Bahamas Exploration Co (Gulf Oil); Bahamas Oil Co (Superior Oil); Shell
Co. of Bahamas (Royal Dutch-Shell); and Standard Oil Co. (Bahamas), an
affiliate of Standard Oil Co. (N. J.).
Equipped with a magnetometer which was developed by
Gulf Research & Development Co, along with the necessary instruments
for controlling the flight, a DC-3 left for Nassau April 19. This survey
will involve the most extensive use of continuously radio-controlled
high-precision flight paths.
Most of the five companies and their associates are
actively engaged, at present,
with gravitimeter work in the Bahamas area. The
results of the magnetic survey may easily have considerable effect on the
exploration planning of the oil industry.
About 50 people will be actively engaged in the survey.
This will include the plane crew, the crews of
three boats - which will operate Shoran equipment - to determine position,
and a ground crew of technicians and draftsmen to reduce and check the
data, and to maintain the electronic devices necessary for the work.
Officials of Aero Services explained that the
uncertainty of position, as determined by the magnetometer aircraft, does
not exceed 200ft, and is usually less.
surveys must be conducted from
planes that are in complete control at all times with reference to their
altitude and flight course. When ground areas are surveyed, this control
is exercised by means of aerial photography.
As the vast stretches of water encountered in the
Bahamas survey will offer few recognizable datum points, it will be
necessary to locate and control the plane by triangulation with the aid of
Shoran, a position control device developed by RCA for the Army Air Force,
and extensively used during the war.
Shoran equipment will be used at Nassau, in addition to
which three boats will be similarly equipped and operated by Overseas
Navigation Inc. The shore station and boats will be used as datum points
from which the position control will be based. When the operation is in
progress, these boats will be anchored fast to known positions.
The job of making a magnetometer survey at 2-mile
intervals of the vast Bahamas area will require at least 6 to 8 months,
with continuous operation of complex electronic signaling and recording
devices. Invisible magnetic storms, resulting from sun spots, as well as
more obvious wind storms and hurricanes of the region, will be among the
natural forces to be
When the survey is finished, the five participating
companies will have a map showing the magnetic variations recorded by this
aerial survey, which then will be interpreted with a view of laying out
further geophysical programs. One of the byproducts of the survey will be
relocating of all the Bahamas
Islands on a map.
Aero Service Corp has already conducted a 30,000-sq
mile survey in Alaska with promising results. In these surveys, the plane
can fly in cloudy weather and as a matter of fact much of the projected
Bahamas surveys probably will be conducted at night as the air is not as
rough, The aerial surveys will be followed by gravitimeter work for a
certainty, according to Horner Jensen, chief of the magnetometer division
of Aero Service Corp.
The chief operational problem of this survey will be to
guide the plane within 200 ft. for a few thousand miles, a problem which
is likely to be most complex.
Operating under very favorable conditions, it is
estimated that 2,000 sq miles can be surveyed daily. However, considering
normal weather conditions in that area, 10,000 sq miles a month will be
considered excellent progress.
In conducting aerial magnetometer surveys, the plane
must fly much lower than when aerial photographic work is being carried
Maurice Bayon & Bob Suggs 2nd & 3rd from right
Service & ONI crews says one source, another says just Aero Service
Modern Exploratory Tools Being Used In Bahamas Oil
This on the scene account tells the story of the oil
Industry's most modern large-scale exploration project, where the airborne
magnetometer is being used in conjunction with Shoran Radar to cover an
80,000 Sq mile area, of which only 10% is land surface. This is a
pioneering project, and the experience gained will probably be valuable in
future exploration activities that embrace large areas.
If oil is found somewhere in
these islands, or the surrounding shallow waters, there is every
indication that finding cost will have been halved by the pioneering,
large-scale exploration methods being employed. Just now the first great
regional airborne magnetometer survey is nearing completion.
The actual operations are being carried out by two
contracting organizations. International Aero Service Corp looks after the
magnetic work using the instrument developed by Gulf Research &
Development Co, Overseas Navigation Inc, takes care of the surveying,
which is done by Shoran radar equipment. Homer Jensen, chief of Aero's
magnetometer division, commutes between that company's Philadelphia
headquarters and Nassau. Either Robert Suggs, president, or Maurice Bayon,
vice president, of Overseas Navigation, commute monthly from the company's
New Orleans headquarters to Nassau.
In addition to cooperative magnetic work, various
companies are carrying on gravitimeter,
and some seismograph work.
Anglo-Iranian has two gravity parties working, one using company personnel
and ships; the other a contract party from Robert H. Ray Co, of Houston,
but using Anglo-Iranian ships. These parties have already covered about
1,100 sq miles of land area and 4,500 sq miles of water area.
Anglo-Iranian has also completed a seismic experimental survey in the area
around Southern Andros Island, the work being carried out by Seismograph
Service Corp. of Tulsa.
The Jersey subsidiary has a seismic party at work now
in the Grand Bahamas Island and Little Bahamas Island concession area.
This company has also done gravity-meter work over vast areas of its
widely scattered concessions.
Shell is conducting extensive marine work, after having
completed similar work on the land areas of its concession. Gulf is
currently confining its efforts to the magnetic work.
Superior has done gravity work on its concession around
Andros Island and its portion of the Cay Sal area. It also did some
seismic work on the portion of its concession
around the Bimini
Islands. At the present time its geophysical activity Is confined to the
In addition, of course, Superior has drilled the only
well to date, abandoning it in April 1947 at 14,585 ft. because of
mechanical difficulties. The well is located on Stafford Creek in about
the middle of the northern part of Andros Island. It is reported that it
reached the Lower Cretaceous and that core analyses showed the formations
were similar to those in southern Florida. The well was spudded April. 24,
1946, long before the airborne magnetometer survey was started.
The aerial magnetometer work is well suited for the
type of cooperative work being carried on here by the five participating
companies because magnetic data of a small area are more valuable when
they are viewed as a component part of data from an entire region. The
companies deliberately chose a cooperative system which would cover some
80,000 sq. miles, so that each could see the entire regional magnetic
picture, and interpret the portion affecting its concession against the
regional background. There are, of course, special problems in this job
due mainly to the fact that only 10 per cent of the area is land, while 80
percent is over shallow water (up to 25ft in depth), the remaining being
in deep water.
The five oil companies coordinate their activities
through a technical committee with one representative from each, company.
However, in most sessions each company usually has another official
present, so that administrative and technical matters can be correlated.
It is apparent from conversations with oil men in Nassau, that some of the
companies are participating with a dual purpose in mind. They want to
become acquainted with these new exploratory methods; the highly technical
equipment, the data involved, and the practical operating problems
connected with their use, beside the apparent primary purpose of obtaining
the magnetic data on their Bahamas concessions.
Official representatives for the participating
companies form a committee which decides priority of survey areas;
inspects and accepts maps: approves expenditures; and maintains a
day-to-day liaison with Aero Service. The meetings are often "warm
with disagreement" as one representative pointed out, but they
usually end amicably.
Aero and Overseas Navigation, the contracting
companies, each has about 35 men on the job, most of them scientists and
technicians. The amount of equipment is in proportion to the magnitude of
the job. The magnetic equipment, Shoran radar and other electronic items,
planes, boats, etc, represent more than a million-dollar investment in
original cost. However, many of the items are war-surplus equipment, which
cut down the acquisition cost to the contractors.
All of this equipment and all the manpower revolve
around one key factor:
the data obtained by the aerial magnetometer carried by the specially
equipped DC-3 plane. It is important therefore to keep this plane in the
air as often and as long as weather and other conditions permit. On flying
days, work at the Oakes Field Air Base at Nassau starts at 6 am and is not
completed until 6 pm, or even later. The plane returns daily at noon and remains only long enough to be refueled and to change
pilots and crews. For such operation, two flight and maintenance crews are
required. The necessity for two crews becomes clear when it is realized
that every full day of flying on this survey is equivalent to covering the
distance from Nassau to Philadelphia and return. Moreover, all flying is "on instruments" over
a rather rigidly defined series of courses on which the plane will never
once be more than 150 ft out of line. The Shoran radar equipment is
designed so that it operates a '"pilot and direction indicator,"
which enables the pilot to keep the plane headed accurately along a chosen
path. The plane also carries an
RCA specially designed recording radio altimeter. Since the Shoran path is
also recorded, both the vertical and two horizontal components of the
plane's position with respect to the earth's surface are recorded, and
correlated by fiducial marks with the magnetic record.
Contact flying is impossible as there are few
recognizable datum points in the vast areas of shallow water encountered
in the Bahamas survey. It is little wonder that Aero's senior pilots,
Richard Leaman and William Gillespie, find this type of flying much more
fatiguing than ordinary flights. They say it is equivalent to flying an
instrument landing system glide path all day. As Gillespie put it,
"it's rather odd to fly a rigid path in space all day over open water
and never once see either land or boats." In fact, as the pilots
point out, as far as they are concerned, the job could be done at night as
well as by day.
The plane crew is made up of five men: pilot, copilot,
flight director, Shoran operator, and magnetometer operator. There is also
a complex mass of electronic equipment for recording the magnetometer
readings, altitude from the altimeter, and position fix from the Shoran
radar. In addition there is ordinary radio equipment for maintenance of
constant contact with the boats and headquarters near Oakes Field. In fact
there is two-way communication open during all operations among all units,
plane, boat, and headquarters. Shoran is turned on by radio orders, with
regular watch schedules of all parties being observed daily.
Shoran, developed by the Army during the war, permits a
plane to determine its position by triangulation with reference to two
known points on the earth's surface, using radio waves from the plane to
each of the two stations and returning to the plane for measuring the two
legs of the triangle. Since the waves travel with the constant speed of
light (186,00 miles per second), measurements of the fractional time
interval between original transmission from the plane and reception back
from the surface stations can he converted to distances. Shoran range,
employing very short wave lengths, is limited to the line of sight.
In the Bahamas work, because the flights are at low
altitude, and water is practically the only highway in the 80,000 sq.
miles to be covered, the Shoran surface stations were established on boats
to make it easy to place them where needed in the area. Four boats, all
originally designed as Army (P) crash boats, have been converted for this
purpose. Two of the Shoran boats are 85 ft in length, the other two are
Shoran has another advantage in the Bahamas, because
accurate geodetic positioning by astronomical means is impossible due to
extreme local gravity anomalies. Using Shoran, the US Army last year tied
in a few points in the Bahamas to the North American geodetic grid. Aero
took advantage of this Survey and set up its own Shoran stations near
these known points, one permanently atop a water tower in the centre of
Nassau, others as needed on boats moored near the known points and
surveyed into them.
In positioning the Shoran boats, the project engineer
directs them to assume approximate positions by dead reckoning, with the
spacing being about 30 miles between the stations. Then they are anchored
and their exact positions triangulated in by Shoran, with the airplane
making the measurements. Thereafter the boats provided continuous track of
position for the plane flying in that general area.
To keep a constant record of the diurnal magnetic
variations, and above all else, to detect magnetic storms (which are
probably more closely related to sunspot disturbances than to what the
layman considers weather), a ground diurnal station is located in a radio
shack back of the Nassau headquarters. If the magnetic storms are severe,
all operations are immediately called off. Actually the diurnal variations
up to October 22 had been very low and consequently had not been a source
of interruption of operations.
When it is considered that the Bahamas survey is
believed to be the most extensive project of radio-guided flight ever
undertaken, either by military or civilian personnel, it is obvious that
the electronic equipment has been subjected to severe trial. From
conversations with the electronic maintenance technicians at Nassau, one
is led to understand that maintenance troubles, though time consuming,
have caused surprisingly little delay in the continuity of the survey.
These men seem amazed that this full plane load of complex, relatively
untested electronic equipment, all of which must function perfectly and in
coordination, has stood up so well, and caused so few work stoppages.
Maintenance of equipment is important, but so is
maintenance of the morale and physical well being of the men engaged in
the various phases of geophysical activities in this vast expanse of
mostly empty, water covered space. Rotation of relief crews on the boats
is done by chartered amphibian planes, usually either a Grumman Goose or a
PBY. In spite of the
high charter cost per hour it has been found considerably cheaper to make
such transfers by plane rather than by boat, and certainly cheaper than
making expensive turnaround trips in the operating unit boats. The planes
land in open water near the boats and transfer men and supplies. On one
occasion when a hurricane threatened a boat stranded with insufficient
fuel, Overseas had a PBY flown to the boat and pumped gasoline directly
from the wing tanks of the plane into the fuel tanks of the boat. The
present operations use about, 2,000 bbl of gasoline per month.
Other geophysical crews which operate aboard boats, in
good weather are away from Nassau as much as a month at a time. Periodic
plane contacts are made with these units, Anglo-Iranian maintains a
bi-weekly air service to a repair base in southern Andros Island, where
there is a complete workshop and refrigeration facilities. This company
also has a supply boat which makes periodic visits to its various marine
It is probably foolhardy to attempt to evaluate the
practical results that can be expected from the magnetic data secured.
Thus far only the preliminary, uncorrected contour maps are available.
Relatively little is known about their ultimate meaning. If any of the
companies which have had the aerial magnetometer surveys completed over
their concessions have gained any pertinent information from the
preliminary data, nothing has been divulged.
As might be expected, with the data at this stage,
there are rumors of differences of opinion among geologists, some feeling
that the data gathered so far indicate that some of the generally held
beliefs about the geology of this region are in error. Others do not
agree, and hold that certain extensive gravitimeter
and seismic-exploration results lead to other conclusions.
The Bahamas job, like all pioneering efforts, will be
costly, probably more costly than subsequent aerial magnetic projects, due
to experience gained. In addition, this operation has been severely
handicapped by the worst hurricane season in 60 years, according to the
weather records compiled by Anglo-Iranian. When a hurricane is
approaching, all boats must be moved to a safe place, and work may be
stopped completely if a safe area for continued working cannot be found,
In the first big hurricane in October, the Shoran boats were sent to Cuba,
and all escaped damage. Meantime, however, salaries and other overheads go
on piling up.
George & Baker
Strayhorn & Luke Carter on Charlie
operation was, naturally, followed by others: Mexico, 1948; Kuwait,
1951, and, since those early days, ONI and its associated companies
worked in over eighty-five other countries. A general recession early in
1950 caused by the controversial Federal-State ownership of the
tidelands areas in the Gulf of Mexico was successfully weathered.
request of the US Military, the company established a Shoran school
during the Korean War. Further, the company was represented in Korea by
Joseph DeLerno, as a technical representative.
Navigation Inc was succeeded in 1955 by International Offshore
Navigation Inc, active in Central and South America. Offshore
Raydist Inc was organized in February 1952. This was a jointly owned
corporation with Hastings Raydist and Offshore Navigation, as equal
partners. Raydist, a hyperbolic system was able to solve the Shoran
distance limitations in the Gulf of Mexico. Raydist, from January 1963,
furnished positioning services to the US Navy in connection with
the Polaris Missile Submarine sea trials.
1966, the first public offering of ONI stock was made (an offering
within the company had previously been made to the employees).
expansion of activities necessitated the opening of several area
offices. First was Long Beach, California in 1948. Others that have
followed are: Houston, Texas; Anchorage, Alaska; Sydney, Australia; Singapore;
Geneva, Switzerland; Tampico, Mexico; and Calgary, Canada in 1971.
and ONI, other subsidiary companies were: Automated ONI, 1970; Servicios
Radiometricos Sociedad Anonima, 1970; Radiometric Services Inc,
1970; Offshore Navigation (Nigeria) Ltd, 1970; Offshore Navigation
(Canada) Ltd, 1971; West Africa Surveys Inc, 1971; Offshore Engineering
Surveys, 1974, North Sea Navigation.
So, briefly through the years:
Navigation Inc founded on March 23rd 1946.
First client was the
California Company (now Chevron Oil Co). Site of operation was in the
Grand Isle area of Louisiana.
Formation of a wholly-owned subsidiary
Navigation Inc to conduct a Bahamian operation.
First overseas operation. Aerial magnetometer operation in the Bahamas
for a group of petroleum companies. Participating for ONI were war
veterans Louie Conner, George Roussel, Johnnie Lott, Jim Strayhorn, Bob
Schmidt, and Poncho Ramirez. Shoran base stations were installed on
a number of the nine company-owned war surplus air-sea rescue
vessels. For the next eight years, ONI would be in the "boat
business" with all the problems attendant to operating and
maintaining marine craft.
First Shoran land survey
operation was conducted on the Edwards Plateau of west Texas.
Significant expansion of domestic marine geophysical operations. First
project on US West Coast was in California, under John Coffman's
supervision. First Latin American operation was in Campeche Bay, Mexico.
Ray Landry, Poncho Ramirez, George Fossier, Jim Strayhorn, Jim Castell,
and Al LeBlanc were assigned to that project.
selected to train US Air Force personnel in operation and maintenance of
Shoran. Joe DeLerno was one of our instructors. Several students, Tom
Matthews - ONI Technical Services Manager - and John Narramore joined
ONI years later, after retiring from the Air Force.
Venezuelan operation took place in this year. George Roussel and Poncho
Ramirez operated Shoran base stations for an aerial magnetometer survey
conducted by Aero Service, Inc.
Middle East operation. Among the participants were: Les Schroeder,
George Fossier, Jim Strayhorn, Hank Bosch, and Hilton Borne.
formation of Offshore
Raydist Inc, a jointly-owned subsidiary with Hastings Raydist
Inc, of Hampton, Virginia. Prior to 1952, all operations were conducted
with the Shoran radiopositioning system.
The first Canadian project was an aerial
magnetometer operation conducted in the Canadian Arctic. Among those
participating were Dave Henry, Earl Benson, and Ed Barney.
Initial African operation.
ONI provided Shoran base station personnel for photo and aerial
magnetometer operations conducted by Aero Service Inc, in Liberia.
Personnel assigned were Hilton Borne, Camille Belsom, George Barry, Bryan
Price, Jack Kron, Oyt Burge, and John Brinegar.
Offshore Navigation Inc formed.
intensifies in the Lake Maracaibo area of Venezuela. For the next
several years many ONI personnel would work there.
ONI operation south of the equator took place in Brazil under Jim
Prior to 1957 ONI had few
foreign operations, most of the company's radiopositioning activities
taking place in the Gulf of Mexico, and off the US West Coast.
Marked the second Canadian aerophoto job, with Al Leffler, Milton Hock,
Harry Asher, Bill Parkhurst, Ed Barney and John Passman.
precursor of many operations yet to come in Alaska was conducted here.
The year also witnessed initial
operations on the European mainland. After a brief operational period
off Sicily, our activities took in the Adriatic coast of Italy. Records
show participation by Joe DeLerno, George Dugas, Fred Wood, Hans
Karlsson, Wilbur Boudreaux, Aaron Jenkins, and Corbin Pomroy.
the first operation on the Indian subcontinent, in West Pakistan. This
year also found ONI operating in Australia for the first time.
Early on, ONI subsidiary, Offshore
Raydist Inc, was awarded a significant contract by the US
Navy to provide positioning services for its Polaris class
nuclear-powered submarines during builders' trials at many US Navy and
commercial facilities. This contract was renewed each year, and
continued on through to the late 70's, although at a reduced
intensity experienced during the mid to late 60's. Employees on the
advance team instrumental in getting this project off to a good start
were, Joe DeLerno, Bob Dreyer, Paul Jensen, Mike McGraw, Tom Mestayer,
Jim Rust and Bill Terry. (This service contract was still ongoing
of the destructive Alaska "Good Friday" earthquake,
responsible for numerous deaths and injuries, and which caused extensive
damage to the city of Anchorage and the port city of Valdez.
At last ONI had a home of its own! After occupying rented facilities for
many years that it had outgrown, ONI moved to its own newly
constructed spacious headquarters at Harahan, just outside central New
First Southeast Asia operation, off
Palawan Island, Republic of the Philippines.
maximum utilization of Raydist positioning services on the Gulf of
ONI developed ONIX system was first employed on a southern California
Extended Range (X~R) Shoran was first used overseas for an operation in
ONI opened an Area office in Singapore.
Ted Patro appointed Area Manager for Southeast Asia operations.
By adopting electronic hardware developed for weak radio signal
reception, and improved high gain antennas, ONI, began to offer a
trans-horizon Shoran service. Very significant improvements in the
service range of Shoran radio-positioning were thereby realized.
Area office for Europe,
Africa and the Middle East opened in Geneva, Switzerland, early in the
year. These areas had formerly been run from the Lebanon area
office, Beirut, which closed in January 1969.
ONI began offering satellite navigation
Loran-C radio-positioning first employed in 1970.
To serve the needs of increasing
business in its service areas, 1970 saw the function of ONI
subsidiaries, Offshore Navigation of
Canada Limited, Radiometric
Services Inc, and Servicios Radiometricos Sociedad Anonima.
Africa Surveys Inc, an ONI subsidiary company, was
operation in Greenland took place.
Shoran IV radio-positioning system first
employed on a foreign operation, in the Mediterranean, off Sicily and
Malta. Serving on that operation were Dave Taylor, Ron Hewson, Louie
Conner, Bob Brown, Bill Swan, Bill Justice, Tony Hoggart, and Graeme
first ACCUFIX operation in Alaska took place.
ONI began commercial
operations in a new marine service field, Offshore
Engineering Surveys (OES) by providing high resolution,
shallow penetration geophysical, bathymetric, and other related data.
Such data is utilized in siting considerations relating to
petroleum drilling structures, pipeline right-of-ways, dredging
operations, archeological site detection, and for a number of other
marine resource exploitation applications. Employee's participating on
the initial OES Operation aboard the M/V Johnny Walker off the Louisiana
coast were: Jim Mahlum, Mike Coster, Greg Akers, Howard Hayes,
Kelly Robertson, Darrell Camp, Ernie Shuler, Mike Hixson, and Bill
year marked our first retirement from employment. Rita "Hefty"
Fried, our confidante, receptionist, and telephone switchboard operator
since 1953, retired in April. Hefty will be remembered for
So we can
all find out what it was that "Hefty" will be
remembered for, along with the conclusion of this abbreviated history of
ONI, I need pages 5 thru 14 of the November 1976 Crosstalk. And should
anyone have anything to offer along similar lines, post 1976, please
feel free. It is your website.
Shoran and Raydist
(a hyperbolic, lane-count type system) were ONI's bread and butter for
many years, other systems were developed (some in conjunction with other
companies) and introduced over time:
(for Extended Range) Shoran,
IV were longer range ONI developments of the
was offered, often in conjunction with the Transit
satellite receivers, used mainly for surveying in
base station sites around the world.
DT used this on trials in the Beaufort Sea and saw
ranges well over 150 miles, but remembers nothing of what it looked
like. Used Log Periodic antennas.
& ONIX S trisponder,
short range, line-of-site micro systems by ONI.
(by Cubic) was another Hyperbolic system, and was
later used in conjunction with the initial GPS constellation, which
served to maintain lane count.
was an ONI developed, transistorized and simplified version of Shoran.
A French system, similar to Maxiran. The long
range version used an amplifier on the shore stations which took at
least four people to carry!
A 100 KHZ system, very long range, required
150 foot towers, and cesium standards to stabilize the ranging data.
was an HF frequency data link developed by ONI. This
was the first system used to transfer large amounts of data via HF radio
over very long distances (up to approx. 600 to 800 km. We used this
system to transmit differential GPS data from the reference station to
the seismic Vessels. This was used to confirm the accuracy of Spot.
Micronet was replaced by a satellite data link towards the end.
was designed and developed by ONI. This took several years and
several millions of dollars. The system was the first Spread Spectrum
transmission system. The navigation ranging and calibration data was
transmitted over 68000 discrete frequencies. This made the system immune
to phase shifting and allowed a low powered signal to be detected and
used over very long ranges up to 1000km. The French came out with a
similar system a couple of years later. Apparently, just after the
completion of the Spot system trials, a complete set of schematics went
missing! One wonders if the French ended up with these, and were thus able to
save a couple of years and millions of dollars developing their system. Spot was
the best system ONI ever used, and it was operational in Australia up to
the time the Perth Office closed. We were able to cover the whole of
Northern and Northwest Australia from east of Darwin to Karratha with
eight stations. Eventually, Spot, as well as most other systems, were
replaced by differential GPS.
was first used by ONI as far back as 1984, possibly even earlier. At
first it was primarily used to maintain lane-count on the Argo system.
Its use was limited by the few satellites that were available, and even
then there were few periods during the day when three or four satellites were
simultaneously at the correct altitude and angle to give an accurate
fix. But as more satellites were launched, and the system achieved
better reliability, things improved dramatically. Initially,
the oil companies took some persuading, even though the operators could
see the potential of the system, despite "Selective
Availability". Then, with the advent of Differential Corrections,
it was "game on," and everyone was in on the act. Nowadays,
with a full constellation of reliable satellites, plus back-up,
navigation has become simple and reliable for almost anyone - though
you do still need to know how to set it up properly so as to achieve
full potential. Simple, but a point missed by the
majority of everyday (non professional) users.
sight.The ex-ONI Headquarters buildings in Harahan, September 2007
courtesy of Pat Mathews
contact the webmaster if you are able to help with any further
information on the above systems, or to correct my mistakes! email@example.com
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