About Simrad's fishery sonars

For more than 50 years, Simrad hss manufactured advanced and reliable sonars for efficient fishery

During the last 50 years, the ways and means of fishing have evolved to become more and more technology based. To lead in this technological change is to shape the world of fishing and through ideas and innovations Simrad has done just that. You could say that fifty years ago, fish were relatively safe. Now though, with Simrad’s help, fish can be caught in a far more efficient manner, which in turn increases profitability and makes life at sea less stressful for the fisherman. Simrad's advanced technology has transformed the world of fishing, and with the constant development of sonars, echo sounders and catch monitoring instruments, Simrad continues to forge an unprecedented path.

In the beginning

Sonar, or Sound Navigation and Ranging, started out as a military application during the Second World War. In fact, it was originally referred to as ASDIC, or Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee. It was devised to detect enemy submarines and ultimately destroy them. It wasn’t until 1953, following a deal with the Institute of Marine Research, Bergen, Norway, that sonar was used for anything other than military applications. Simrad’s technicians had been tasked with commercialising this former military technology, and were preparing to revolutionise the world of fishing. It’s a question as to whether sonar would be part of the fishing world at all, if Simrad had failed in this task.


The ”Ramoen” was the first commercial vessel to be fitted with sonar. The technicians at Simrad needed a testing ground, and the Norwegian trawler would provide the perfect solution. Active sonar – which sends as well as receives – was a young technology at the time of the ”Ramoen”, so compared to today’s standards, the first sonar was bulky, expensive and not exactly user friendly.

Ramoen: First commercial fishing vessel with sonar

The ”Ramoen” however, was an amazing success, because without it, the Simrad technicians would never have come up with the Basdic Hand Operated Sonar. In 1955 it became the first widely used sonar mounted in the skiff. The Basdic sonar sold over 5000 units and is still in use by some of the original ”early adopters” today - testament to the build quality still apparent in all Simrad products.

Sonar for all

It wasn’t until 1959 that Simrad made sonar a true commercial viability.The ”Silde ASDIC” ("Sild" means Herring in Norwegian) was so popular in fact, that it was blamed for depleting Herring stocks in the North Sea at the time!

With the success of the Sild ASDIC, the cost of sonar became a very important aspect for Simrad when developing future systems. The emphasis on cost has been shared with a focus on innovation ever since, which is why Simrad Sonar is still the preferred choice for commercial fishermen fifty years on.

Simrad SB sonar from 1964

Simrad SB sonar from 1964

In 1968 Simrad introduced the SU Sonar series, which featured a transducer deployed by hydraulics. The success of the SU didn’t deter Simrad in working to develop a more cost-effective solution and in 1975 the ST Sonar was released. It used an inflatable dome system (as an alternative to hydraulics), which created aerodynamic protection for the transducer. Another simple idea that demonstrates Simrad’s forward thinking attitude and customer commitment.

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