John T. Johnson is the co-founder of Oceaneering International, Inc. (OII), which had crew members on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig at the time of the explosion. He recently gave an entertaining presentation on "Exploring Ocean Depths: Past, Present, and Future," at the Blount County Public Library.
Oceaneering operates in forbidding locations where many people fear to venture; from the depths of the ocean floor to the vast reaches of outer space. The company provides offshore oil companies with underwater drilling support, construction, environmental management, and repair services. They also make subsea systems to test potential offshore oil fields. OII makes remotely operated diving vessels (ROVs), which are often used in search and recovery operations for the US Navy. In 2009 the company owned some 250 ROVs, the largest fleet in the world.
Oceaneering also serves the defense and aerospace industries, and develops space suits and robotics for NASA. In 2008, they won a $745 million United States government contract for the design and manufacture of space suits for future American lunar exploration.
Their Advanced Technologies Group(ATG) is often called in to search for debris after high-profile air accidents over water, such as the wreckage of the Space Shuttle Challenger, the ValuJet crash over the Everglades, Korean Air Lines Flight 007, and the downed TWA Flight 800. They participate in vessel retrieval, such as the Lusitania, Andrea Doris, and the USS Hunley, a downed Confederate submarine. ATG also filmed footage of the RMS Titanic at a depth of 12,500 feet. Record depths of more than 17,000 feet were breached in other cases.
ATG is also involved with theme parks and the entertainment business. One of its higher visibility projects was a leaping robotic shark for the Jaws ride at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando.
Mr. Johnson, now retired and living in Townsend, continues to serve as Senior VP, Board Member Retired, of Oceaneering International. He is a true Tennessee "scrapper" who transformed a diving hobby started in his garage, into a multi-billion dollar international company. Johnny's advice is "to find a need, giter done, and then it's time to get to the house!"