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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 15. August 4, 1971

Omega Navigation Transmitter

Omega Navigation Transmitter.

The possibility that the USN might build a transmitter for its Omega Navigation System in New Zealand was first mentioned on 14th June 1968. When physicists and others pointed out that this system would be used by nuclear submariner as an aid to accurate targeting of the Polaris missile a vigorous protest ensued A long winded debate between anti Omega scientists, and students on the one hand and the Government on the other followed, some landmarks of which were a briefing organised by the Prime Minister's office, a report by the Royal Society of New Zealand, numerous articles in the University of Canterbury student newspaper, Canta a scholarly analysis by R.N. Gould, a survey of the technical literature relating to Omega and an error-strewn "not for attribution document by the External Affairs Department.

On 15 April 1969 a U.S.N. Omega Project team arrived in New Zealand for negotiations on the transmitter siting. No announcement on the results of these negotiations was made public, but an announcement was promised in early May. A lengthy examination of the anti-Omega arguments uncovered mostly minor errors in documentation but being better than anything the Government had done, has been accepted by many as a refutation of the anti-Omega arguments. The Government has never attempted a detailed, documented refutation of the position taken by those who say Omega will be used by Polaris submarines.

After the visit by the American technical experts the controversy died down, but further technical papers kept coming to light which confirmed that Omega was intended for nuclear submarines.

Immediately after the Omega Project team had visited New Zealand and then Australia, rumours began to the effect that the transmitter was to be built in Australia. A DMS report on Omega suggests that the decision was made in May 1969 to locate the transmitter in Australia, at which time the transmitter components were ordered. An Omega Project officer has indicated that Tasmania has been selected as early as January 1968. The Australian Prime Minister did not announce until 18 March 1971 that the transmitter would be built in Tasmania. Possibly controversy about Omega was allowed to continue unchecked all this time in New Zealand as a diversion while uninterrupted negotiations and preparations proceeded in Australia.