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Our history

When engineer John Partridge founded an underwater acoustics consultancy in a small town in southern England in 1971, he had a vision. He wanted to make operations beneath the waves safer and more efficient. Driven by technical curiosity and a desire to solve real-world challenges, his company, Sonardyne has gone on to provide highly effective and trusted answers to successive offshore, scientific and marine industry challenges.

Over five decades, our innovations have set and then reset the benchmarks of what’s possible, first in underwater positioning with products like Compatt, which is still a global byword for acoustic transponders six generations later, and, since the start of the century, equally significant developments in sonar, inertial and optic technologies.

From helping to accurately position the very first truly deepwater offshore structures to mapping globally significant historic wrecks, and from detecting tsunamis to broadcasting live video from a submersible, our history and future is one of industry firsts; providing the answers to your most important challenges.

Some of our major milestones

  • 1971: John Partridge establishes Sonardyne – a compound of ‘sonar’ and ‘dyne’ (a unit of force)
  • 1979: A new industry standard is born; COMPuting And Telemetering Transponder, the Compatt
  • 1984: The world’s first TLP installed using Sonardyne acoustics
  • 1992-1999: Houston, Aberdeen and Singapore offices open
  • 1993: Dimona, our first USBL system, launches
  • 1994: We win the first of four Queen’s Awards
  • 1996: A new purpose-built global HQ, Ocean House, opens its doors
  • 2004: Tsunami detection technology goes on duty in the Bay of Bengal
  • 2021: We celebrate reaching 50 and announce our ambitions of being carbon neutral by 2025

Moments in our timeline

Beginning in 1975, our technology and expertise supported successive surveys of Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose, leading to its recovery, in 1982. Throughout, multiple generations of Sonardyne underwater positioning technology were used; from Rangemeter through to Rangemaster and Scout in the 1990s.

Discovering the secrets of our past - The Mary Rose

Our experience on the world’s first tension leg platform (TLP) installation at the North Sea Hutton field in 1984 led directly to our critical support positioning Shell’s Auger wells and TLP in 1992-1994. It was the world’s first deepwater TLP; the methodology for its installation set the standard for deepwater positioning in the Gulf of Mexico.

World firsts - Hutton TLP

Our technical and commercial achievements have been marked by four separate Queen’s Awards, recognising the break-through our Seismic Integrated Positioning System (SIPS) made in the 1990s through to our 2021 Queen’s Award, which recognised how our seabed monitoring technologies are helping science and industry to unlock underwater geological secrets.

Recognising our achievements - The Queen's Award