Illustrious History

"The light must never go out"

Decades of Experience in Navigation Signaling

Named after the famous lighthouse that stood on the Isle of Pharos in Alexandria, Egypt, Pharos Marine began making aids to navigation more than 100 years ago. The company's founder, Gustav Dalen, had a distinguished career, winning a Nobel Prize when he introduced a system of acetylene gas lights capable of operating for a year without service. His belief that "the light must never go out" became the foundation for a corporate vision that has guided our company to this day.

To date, Pharos Marine Automatic Power, Inc. has provided products for some of the most famous navigation projects around the world, including the first oil rigs off the coast of Texas and the first buoys for the Panama Canal. Today PMAPI continues to provide signaling, monitoring and power solutions, operating worldwide from offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore and Dubai.

Our name, products and services have evolved over the past century. Our commitment to excellence has not.

  • 1904

    Aktiebolaget Gasaccumulator Company (AGA)
    AGA's origins date back to 1904 and are based on the technically ingenious inventions of one man — Gustaf Dalén — who was not only one of Sweden's most important Nobel Laureates but also the only laureate to create an industrial group.

    The AGA industrial company (Aktiebolaget Gasaccumulator Company) was founded to focus mainly on acetylene gas for railway signaling. Soon the company employed Gustaf Dalén as chief engineer and workshop manager where his inventions enabled AGA to grow rapidly. It was the company's inventions with lighthouse technology, the flashing beacon in 1905 and the sun valve in 1907, which were to dictate the company's future. In 1906 Gustaf Dalen became chief engineer at the Gas Accumulator Company; AGA was one of the most innovative companies in Sweden and produced a large variety of products that grew every year.

    The 'Dalén Flasher' reduced gas consumption by more than 90%. The AGA lighthouse equipment worked without any type of electric supply and was thus extremely reliable.
  • 1909

    Gustaf Dalén as AGA Managing Director
    In 1909 Gustaf Dalén ascended to the position of Managing Director of the renamed company Svenska Aktiebolaget Gasaccumulator (AGA). AGA developed lighthouses using Dalén's products. In 1910 the company bought a large real estate in Lidingö and built a production plant that was completed around 1912, and they moved out of the facilities in Stockholm.
  • 1912

    Minutes Before the Disaster — Gustaf Dalén's Accident
    Early in 1912, Dalén was testing maximum pressure for the acetylene cylinders when a cylinder exploded, seriously injuring Dalen and destroying his sight. This picture depicts the test minutes before the accident (Dalén is on the right foreground). Later the same year, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics. Despite his blindness, Dalén controlled AGA until his death in 1937. He received over 100 patents during his lifetime.

    Gustaf Dalén received the Nobel Prize in physics, for his invention of the sun valve (Swedish: solventil, "solar valve"), a device that, except for a small pilot light, only released gas during the flash stage to the acetylene flasher. This device used the same principle applied on today's electric systems as photocells.
  • 1913

    Gas Accumulator Company (United Kingdom) Ltd (later Pharos Marine) is founded.
    AGA (America Gas Accumulator Company, later Pharos Marine) provided the first 17 light buoys with 300 mm acetylene gas lanterns for the ISHTMAN CANAL COMISSION - Panama Canal.

    Pharos Marine is named after the famous lighthouse that stood on the Isle of Pharos in Alexandria, Egypt.
  • 1928

    The Revolutionary Lampchanger
    The first electrical light source was made practical by the innovation of the Lampchanger, Wallace & Tiernan, models FA-147 and FA-148.

    Charles F. Wallace, inventor and founder of Wallace & Tiernan, developed and patented this first Lampchanger in 1928. This patent established the Wallace and Tiernan Company as the pioneer in the electrification of aids to navigation lighting. Pharos Marine Automatic Power, Inc. are heirs to this Wallace and Tiernan Company legacy.

    Automatic Power traces its roots to Charles Wallace's original 1928 Lampchanger patent. Wallace's Lampchanger consisted of a rotating carriage holding a Model T headlight lamp at the focal point of an optic. When the operating lamp failed, a new lamp automatically rotated into the operating position.
  • 1938

    First electro mechanical Lampchanger
    The FU-1247 by Wallace & Tiernan (later redesigned and renamed APL-1297), is the first electro mechanical Lampchanger to be used in combination with electrical flashers.

    FU-1297 units were produced starting in 1938 with 5 to 16 Volts AC or DC operation. Typically this unit was used on Wallace & Tiernan 150mm, 200mm and 300mm lanterns.
  • 1947-A

    Light House Inc. (later Automatic Power Inc.) is founded
    Nathan "Available" Jones, founder and owner of The Light House Inc., Buoys Inc. and The Lighthouse of LA. Inc., was nicknamed "Available" because he never refused to take a sales call, and always answered customers with something like "yes we could do that, not a problem".
  • 1947-B

    First Lighting Offshore Drilling Rig in the Gulf
    The first commercial offshore oil rig began drilling in 1947, 18 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, near St. Mary Parish, LA in just 18 feet (5.5 meters) of water. Light House Inc. supplied four 5-nautical mile lanterns and one and half mile fog horn for this first oil rig. This Gulf of Mexico project became the first platform lighting system.
  • 1949

    The first 2-mile fog signal is implemented in Gulf of Mexico
    Nathan "Available" Jones (founder of The Light House Inc., Buoys Inc. and The Lighthouse of La. Inc.) along with his neighbor Hueling Parker, working in Hueling's garage, designed and built a control panel for the first prototype Model M-18 dual diesel air 2mile fog signal.

    This unit was 8ft wide, 10ft long, and 8ft tall; it weighed about 4 tons loaded. It contained 2 Buda 2-cylinder diesel engines, driving a 30 cfm Ingersol air compressor, with an internal 360 gallon fuel tank, automatic oil filling and water filling system, air receiver and a quad set of Cunningham. Air whistles (Leslie's horns) were mounted on top of the roof of the building.
  • 1959

    First Wind Generator on the Gulf of Mexico
    In 1959 Automatic Power installed a 4.7kw wind generator on a Conoco Platform off Grand Isle, LA.

    It was rated at 4.7kw 120 volts DC. Also installed was a 120Vdc 500 ampere hour battery standby system as well as a 3 cylinder Nordberg Diesel engine with a 20KW 120 volt DC generator.

    The wind generator was made in Germany and had 40 foot diameter metal blades with automatic positioning for wind orientation and over speed/high wind shutdown protection.

    Conoco used the energy to power the aids to navigation, the cathodic corrosion protection system for the platform, power for the well control, and a temporary quarters building used if personnel had to be on the platform overnight.
  • 1960

    The first precision molded acrylic lenses
    Precision molded acrylic lenses were developed to take advantage of the same Fresnel principle used on the glass lenses. These lenses are now used with the 155mm lanterns for buoy and beacon applications with electrical Lampchangers.
  • 1965

    Gas Accumulator Company name chnage
    Gas Accumulator Company (United Kingdom) Ltd. becomes AGA Signals Ltd.
  • 1966

    Company expanded to 5 separate entities throughout the world
    In that year, Automatic Power Inc. merged with Wallace & Tiernan. A subsequent merger of Wallace & Tiernan and Penn Salt Company formed the Pennwalt Corporation, making Automatic Power a division of the larger group.
  • 1969

    AGA Signals Ltd. becomes AGA (UK) Ltd.
  • 1975

    APL1297, Stepper Motor Controlled Lampchanger
    The APL1297 was the first electric stepper motor controlled Lampchanger and Lampchanger/flasher combined on a single frame. Our APL1297 Lampchanger is still in use today.
  • 1976

    Custom design solution for the oil and gas industry in the British North Sea
    Wallace & Tiernan introduced the HALS 15 (Hazardous Area Lighting for 15 nautical miles) - a development to achieve a 15 NM light specifically for the oil and gas industry in the British North Sea. This system consisted of 250mm Marine Lanterns, type FA-250, mounted vertically in a bi-form arrangement on a fully galvanized steel structure. An optional 10 nautical mile standby lantern could be also included.
  • 1977

    First tensioned-moored buoy in the U.S.
    Automatic Power provided the first tensioned moored buoy for one of the turning basins for the port of Miami, FL. .
  • 1978

    First radio synchronization of lights
    Automatic Power engineers based in Houston developed the first "wireless" synchronization system using radio frequency signals to synchronize different buoy lanterns. This allowed for mariners to get clearer and synchronized signal for all the channel buoys flashing together.
  • 1979

    AGA (UK) Ltd. becomes AGA Navigation Aids Ltd.
  • 1982

    First "Made in Houston" Fog Horn, DA-8
    The DA-8 was the first electric Fog Horn totally designed and manufactured in our offices in Houston. This horn served the Oil and Gas businesses of the Gulf of Mexico and several worldwide projects for more than 25 years.

    The DA-8 was a proven, reliable sound emitter for use on offshore platforms. The horn was designed at an optimum frequency to maximize its range rating for both U. S. Coast Guard and IALA criteria.

    Eight emitters were stacked in a vertical array on a marine grade aluminum or, optionally, stainless steel support structure. The tower base included a hinge to facilitate lowering of the tower.
  • 1984

    AGA Navigation Aids Ltd. Becomes AB Pharos Marine Ltd.
    The diversified AGA group was split into new operating companies and the marine aids to navigation manufacturing company was named Pharos Marine after the famous wonder of the world on the isle of Pharos at Alexandria, Egypt.
  • 1989

    Reaching leading industry levels
    In 1989, Automatic Power, Inc. merged with Pharos Marine, making the combined group a worldwide leader in the field.
  • 1995

    First integrated electric Lampchanger and Flasher in one unit
    In 1995 PMAPI introduced the APCL series Flashchanger®. This unit was controlled by a Motorola microprocessor and was the first unit that integrated the functionality of a Lampchanger and a flasher.
  • 1996

    GPS Buoy Location System / First GPS synchronization of lights
    First GPS buoy location system located on the Gulf of Mexico; this was the 2nd generation of the wireless synchronization system for buoys, denominated Uniflash. This system based its operation on the signal received from the GPS satellites.
  • 1997

    Pharos Marine Automatic Power (UK) develops the Pharomac lighthouse remote monitoring system
    Pharomac-2000 allowed the monitoring and control of an effectively unlimited number of independent outstations from 1 or more base stations via UHF and VHF radio links, telephone landlines, cellular, satellite & dedicated cables.
  • 1998

    Lighthouse towers in the Philippines
    Pharos Marine Automatic Power (UK) participated in the equipment and installation process of 110 GRP lighthouse towers in the Philippines. The towers were designed to withstand Typhoon winds in excess of 100mph; most of them also incorporated the "Meteor Burst" communication technology to do the remote monitoring of the electrical equipment on the lighthouses.
  • 2000

    First Retrofit of LEDs to Classic Optics
    Retrofit LEDs were developed to fit inside our regular lanterns, replacing old generation incandescent lampchanger and Flashchanger, while keeping exactly the same focal height. It's an easy unit to retrofit existing lanterns in the field with state-of-the-art LED flasher.
  • 2006

    IEC compliant Automatic Identification System (AIS) Aton Transponder and iNAV AIS Aton Monitoring Software
    First IEC-62320-2 compliant Type 1 (FATDMA) and 3 (RATDMA) AIS Aton Transponder. ATONIS was a unique, state-of-the-art, modular, Aids to Navigation Information System designed to operate seamlessly in an AIS VDL environment using FATDMA and RATDMA protocols. It was the first AIS AtoN transponder designed to be fully compliant with the governing directives for AIS AtoN transponders; ITU-R M.1371 and IEC Standard 62320-2. It was scaled to fit within a standard 155mm lantern housing, but could also be mounted in an external enclosure, suitable for use on buoys and offshore platforms.

    iNAV was the first AIS Aton monitoring software designed exclusively for both AIS and conventional Aton monitoring and features many monitoring functions unique to the AIS system.
  • 2007

    Extreme Length LED Litepipes & Solar powered system
    First use of extreme length LED Litepipes, exceeding 35 feet in length, and the first solar powered system for a Bridge project on the East Coast.
  • 2009-A

    The Toxaway Capital Partners Group
    Pharos Marine Ltd., Automatic Power Inc. and Sims Systems Ltd. became part of the Toxaway Capital Partners Group.
  • 2009-B

    AtonisPro AIS Aton Transponder & iNAVPro AIS Analysis Software
    AtonisPro was the first A-126 compliant AIS Aton Transponder and added many new features in addition to the functions of the successful Atonis. iNAVPro was the first AIS VDL and AIS Transmitter performance analyzing software program, giving AIS Authorities a very capable tool to analyze and monitor the AIS VDL.
  • 2010

    RTCM Membership
    Pharos Marine Automatic Power becomes member of RTCM, Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services.
  • 2012

    PMAPI - The New Era
    The entire group (Pharos Marine Ltd., Automatic Power Inc. and Sims Systems Ltd.) are now under one integrated name, "Pharos Marine Automatic Power Inc." and are working as one global company. PMAPI adopted the tag line of "Global Quality, Global Solutions."

    On July of this year PMAPI moved Management, Procurement, Sales, Engineering and Production operations for the entire group into a new 67,000 SQF facility located at 10810 W. Little York, Suite 130, Houston, TX 77041.
  • 2015

    Product Innovation

    PMAP releases Stainless Steel product line, officially becoming the first fully Stainless Steel Nav Aids supplier on the market.

  • 2017-A

    New 3-5NM Product Families Launched

    Building on a legacy of product innovation, PMAP launches new product families for applications requiring 3-5NM at 0.74T.

    The PMAPI-NS35 is designed as a durable and reliable LED lantern with the benefit of the "flickering flash" programmable option that allows it to be more visible in areas with high background light interference.

    The PMAPI-SC35 takes the NS35 optics and combines it with solar power and battery systems, creating a self-contained unit that requires no external power.

  • 2017-B

    PharoDeck is Born

    An extensive range of loading tests consistent CAP 437 requirements were completed and described in a detailed test report from Imperial College, where the tests were performed. No evidence of damage to the strip was recorded despite the fact that the pressure on the glass lens appeared to be somewhat higher than required, balanced by lower pressure remote from the lens.

    Satisfied with the testing results, PMAP moves to distinguish its Circle and H from the competition and names it PharoDeck. PharoDeck is then trademarked.

  • 2018

    PharoDeck receives CAA Approval

    After extensive testing, the PharoDeck™ receives approval from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for use in CAP 437 Offshore Helicopter Landing Areas.

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