Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed

Omega system to be shut down

Jan 1, 2003
From Ocean Navigator #84
September/October 1997
Made redundant by the advent of GPS, Omega, a worldwide very low frequency radio navigation system, will be permanently shut off this fall. Interestingly, one of the largest groups of Omega users is not navigators, but weather services. Omega receivers are used in weather balloon instrument packages for gathering data on balloon position.

On Sept. 30, transmissions will cease from the system's eight giant antennas. Transmitters are located in North Dakota, Hawaii, Norway, Australia, Liberia, Réunion, Argentina, and Japan. Omega, which has been operational since 1968, first by the Navy and then by the Coast Guard in 1971, was developed by John Alvin Pierce in the 1940s at MIT.

Omega antennas, which will be dismantled, stand more than 1,200 feet tall and are tourist attractions, according to the Coast Guard's Radionavigation Bulletin. In the town of LaMoure, N.D., the antenna has influenced local businesses. LaMoure boasts an Omega Plaza, an Omega Room at a local restaurant, and an Omega Hotel. (Does the honeymoon suite have -shaped beds?)