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Marlink is providing a special purpose highly resilient satellite network solution for the Remotely Operated Service at Sea (ROSS) project developed by offshore services operator SeaOwl.

Marine and technical consultancy Brookes Bell has been contracted by Norwegian Cruise Line to deliver its software solution SRtP Onboard across its Breakaway Plus class of vessels.

Windward, the predictive maritime intelligence company, has launched its next-generation Maritime Predictive Intelligence solution powered by Maritime Artificial Intelligence Analytics (MAIA).

COMSAT, the global satellite connectivity solutions provider and member of the Satcom Direct family, is expanding its international terminal, hardware and service footprint following the signing of a new distribution agreement with global provider of airborne and maritime satellite solutions, Orbit Communications Systems.  

Author: Andrew Loretta, director, maritime business development for ORBCOMM.

We are proud to be a part of the recently announced partnership with AAC Clyde Space AB and SAAB AB that is ushering in a new era in maritime communications through the development of the next generation of a space-based very high frequency (VHF) Data Exchange System (VDES). As the maritime industry embraces digitalisation, we expect a greater emphasis on secure data exchange and ship to shore communication—and we look forward to facilitating this shift in operations through our technology in conjunction with our partners.

As long-term providers of automatic identification system (AIS) solutions and a touchpoint for space-based maritime data, we at ORBCOMM relish the opportunity to demonstrate the benefits that the significantly increased bandwidth that VDES will offer not just our maritime customers but the supply chain as a whole.

With up to 32 times more bandwidth than currently offered by AIS and two-way communication, the ground-breaking new system is the next natural step for satellite technology and will allow users to completely rethink the way they manage their fleets. VDES bridges the gap between ship and shore in a way that the industry has been crying out for.

One of the changes we are most excited about is how innovators now have an open playing field to craft interesting technical solutions specifically for the maritime world without having to scale back their imaginations to match the limited accessibility. The sky is literally the limit once these new satellites come into play and we are keen to work with newcomers and support existing companies with bringing their visions to life so that they can propel this industry forward.

We have already seen how our AIS data is used not just for real-time vessel and asset tracking, but also as a base line from which interesting insights can be drawn about the global fleet. A good example is a recent article by maritime expert and Navigate PR director Bill Lines, who used our partner Marine Traffic’s data in conjunction with information from the Baltic Exchange to create a snapshot of tanker operating expenses.  

We already know that VDES can be integrated with existing vessel systems and we are keen to see how ship operators, managers and equipment manufacturers will use this data highways to improve navigation, boost safety, enforce regulations, reduce emissions via fuel consumption, and improve on-board decision making by delivering data-driven insight.

Work on the project begins next month when AAC Clyde Space will begin manufacturing the satellite that will boast a VDES payload from Saab. We expect to complete the in-orbit VDES capability demonstration of the first EPIC 3U satellite in the first quarter 2023 and are happy to say that ORBCOMM customers can expect to receive AIS data from the new satellite and so will benefit from the project as it comes on line.

As a larger constellation of VDES satellites is contemplated, we look forward to being the conduit for better-quality data in larger quantities. Our considerable IoT experience puts us in a prime position to reap the benefits of the technology as it evolves, and we are excited to work with our partners and guide them on the best path to maximize the benefits of using VDES technology.

To learn more about the project, we encourage you to watch this video, which features Greg Flessate, ORBCOMM senior vice president and general manager for Government, AIS and Business Operations, as well as AAC Clyde Space chief executive officer Luis Gomes and Saab’s Christer Fuglesang being interviewed by Rachel Carroll, president and managing partner at Edison.

Demand for faster and cheaper connectivity at sea is set to increase as sailing is recognised as a safer place to work, travel and holiday during the COVID-19 pandemic says satcom specialist IEC Telecom, which is experiencing an increase in enquiries from vessel operators in the maritime leisure sector.

With ‘lockdowns’ and restrictions easing in some parts of the world, yacht owners are now able to enjoy ‘social distancing’ onboard their vessels, which is leading to a boost in demand for high-speed connectivity and increased bandwidth capacity. With the focus on social distancing, yachts are becoming increasingly attractive remote offices for those able to attend to business matters while enjoying the open sea, sunshine and fresh air. During this challenging time, sailors have an increased need to stay connected for both personal and operational purposes as well as to avoid the need to go ashore as much as possible.

The signs are pointing to an upsurge in leisure boating. Yacht chartering is seen as one of the safest ways to enjoy a break at present due to the minimal contact charterers have with other people. Yachts are considered to be more hygienic, given the ratio of crew to guests and the exclusivity of being on a private boat. Affluent consumers are looking for getaways with fewer crowds, more privacy and the ability to gather privately with those closest to them. The Boat Affair platform (whose rentals are available in more than 60 countries) has seen a 23 per cent increase in requests from customers who traditionally would opt for a hotel vacation or a seaside resort but are now seeking a safer alternative. And, according to a new survey by LuggageHero, 25 per cent of travellers report they will try to avoid crowded commercial flights and public transportation in a post-coronavirus world.

Meanwhile, in countries where travel is still restricted, many larger leisure boats and super yachts remain fully crewed and operational – also leading to increased need for connectivity as crews try to stay in touch with family and friends while conducting as many ship operations as possible via remote techniques. With crew restricted to remaining on the vessel in many places, higher speeds and larger bandwidth capacity is needed to provide leisure activities too.

The leisure boat sector was initially hit hard by international lockdowns and is now incurring additional costs for deep cleaning, personal protective equipment, virus testing etc which are not generally reflected in the charter fees. As a result, systems which allow to optimise bandwidth consumption in order to reduce expenses on communication are proving popular with consumers looking to install or upgrade yacht connectivity systems.

Gwenael Loheac, chief executive officer Western & Southern Europe for IEC Telecom said: “Data traffic on leisure vessels has increased during this crisis period because crew, vessel operators and passengers need to exchange information on a more regular basis. In response to COVID-19, we are seeing increased demand for flexible tariffs to enable leisure vessel operators to adapt quickly to fluctuating connectivity requirements. Fortunately, we are well-placed to meet these needs, having a wide portfolio of solutions designed to provide best user experience, while keeping communications costs at bay.

IEC Telecom recently launched OneGate Marine Compact, a new lightweight digital solution with a network management system which provides full visibility over on-board network assets (both satellite and GSM) and enables vessel owners to control expenses and optimise consumption via a digital dashboard.

Mr Loheac commented: “OneGate Marine Compact was developed to cater to all major requirements of the leisure boat sector – addressing their needs for speed, bandwidth and cost optimisation. OneGate Marine Compact is an agile, lightweight, highly-adaptable and easy-to-install digital communications system which gives complete access to the benefits of digital connectivity even on smaller vessels. At this challenging time this system is providing many of the answers yacht owners need to enable them to conduct online business and leisure activities safely and securely.”

The Republic of Panama, a country with the largest registered vessels fleet, is digitalising its application system through a partnership with Marine Online. This move is expected to deliver a significant reduction on travelling and waiting time required to visit the embassy to authenticate the seafarers’ certificates of competency for safe embarkation.

Innovation Norway has provided support for Greek software provider Ulysses Systems Hellas and Norway’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions provider VesselMan to develop an integrated Planned Maintenance System and project management tool for technical projects. The joint project is part of the Greece Business Innovation program.

Pole Star has added a Bill of Lading Verification (BLV) extension to its PurpleTRAC solution.

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Digital Ship magazine provides the latest information about maritime satellite communications technology, software systems, navigation technology, computer networks, data management and TMSA. It is published ten times a year.

 

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