Commercial Navigation Systems
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The Decca Radar was first deployed by the Royal Navy during World War II and began transmitting on the day before the D-Day invasion force landed. The Decca Navigator System from Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine allowed ships and aircraft to determine their position by receiving radio signals from fixed navigational beacons. After the war it was extensively developed around the world.
American William O'Brien wrote to Mr H. F. Schwartz of the Decca Record Co describing an idea for use of radio for navigating aircraft. The authorities in Britain and the USA were sceptical about its practicability. Nevertheless Decca supported the work in London and, in 1941, set up a laboratory for the purpose in Hollywood, USA. By 1942 the Admiralty were sufficiently convinced to undertake trials. By January 1944, demonstrations had convinced the authorities about the system's capabilities and it was selected for use on D-Day to guide the invasion fleet. In 1945 use of the system was extended to aircraft which was Decca's own chosen application.
The Decca Navigator System was a hyperbolic radio navigation system which allowed ships and aircraft to determine their position by receiving radio signals from fixed navigational beacons. The system used low frequencies from 70 to 129 kHz. It was first deployed by the Royal Navy during World War II when the Allied forces needed a system which could be used to achieve accurate landings.
After the war it was extensively developed around the UK and later used in many areas around the world. Its origins is still the basis for our technology today, via Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine.
On D-Day the purpose of the radio position-fixing service was first to guide the leaders of the minesweeping flotillas on the exacting task of clearing the prescribed paths through the enemy minefields: later the leading landing craft of the force were to pass with the aid of their own Decca Receivers through the narrow swept channels to arrive precisely at the required points on the coast line. Lt.-Cdr. Oliver Dawkins, RN. VR., was a specialist navigating officer in the Senior Officer's ship of a flotilla of minesweepers. Read extracts from a personal record.