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Stolt Tankers moves fleet to VSAT

Stolt Tankers is to equip its entire fleet of deep sea and regional tankers with the Sealink global Ku-band VSAT service from Marlink, the companies have confirmed.

Stolt had been known to be engaged in an extensive tender and evaluation process as part of its satellite communications upgrade programme, and has expended considerable effort examining the connectivity options available in the market before announcing its decision.

The contract, signed in April 2013, covers the provision of VSAT to 90 tankers.

“With Marlink’s global Ku-band VSAT service, we get the ability to operate using bandwidth-hungry applications, which helps to improve our efficiency, logistics and administration, whilst providing internet and voice calling for crew,” says Mark Martecchini, managing director shipowning for Stolt Tankers.

“We also have flexibility for the future as the services are prepared for possible future migration to new High Throughput Satellite services based on Ka- and Ku-band.”

Marlink has designed a hybrid network solution using Sealink connectivity as the primary channel and MSS services as back-up for Stolt Tankers. The XChange solution from Astrium Services acts as the central platform for delivering value-added services for each vessel’s crew connectivity and can be used for administration of user accounts, crew and network access, and pre-paid services.

Marlink has also integrated an MPLS connection to Stolt’s Headquarters, and will provide global support for all aspects of the multi-layered network in line with a contracted Service Level Agreement. This integration with terrestrial systems results in a fully managed connectivity service for Stolt.

“Stolt Tankers chose Marlink as we are a highly experienced service provider and were able to meet the requirement for fully managed voice and data communication services using a combination of satcom and terrestrial connectivity, whilst providing global support,” said Tore Morten Olsen, head of maritime services at Astrium Services.

“We have developed a customised, future-proof solution that enables Stolt to adapt its connectivity to suit new requirements and to leverage new broadband services when they are available.”

Marlink will also train Stolt’s own engineers to prepare each vessel for installation, ensuring an efficient start-up for the company’s new VSAT network. Installation is expected to start in June with all vessels scheduled to be online by the end of 2014.

In related news, international dredging and offshore contractor Van Oord has also chosen Sealink VSAT from Marlink to provide data communication services for three offshore rock placement vessels.

The five year contract covers Marlink’s provision of end-to-end services and includes a facility to provide ad-hoc coverage should the vessels be operating in extreme remote areas.

Sealink will be installed aboard the Stornes (26,000Te), which has been operational since late September 2011, Nordnes (24,000Te) and Tertnes (9,785Te). The vessels are used for Subsea Rock Installation (SRI), for the protection and stabilisation of offshore structures within a subsea construction field.

The Sealink connectivity is delivered through stabilised 1.5m Ku-band antennas with dedicated bandwidth of CIR 512 kbps duplex and accommodation for temporary bandwidth provision up to CIR 4,096 kbps duplex.

The service features multiple carrier support, which provides the ability to switch from the Sealink Ku-band VSAT to any of Van Oord’s alternative carriers already installed. As part of the contract, Sealink will support VoIP traffic over VLAN and automatic beam switching between different satellites.

“Sealink meets Van Oord’s very specific connectivity requirements for these specialised vessels and offers improved possibilities for both crew and operational connectivity,” said Ab Argam, area manager Benelux, Marlink.

“The solution we have developed is extremely flexible. Marlink will act as a one-stop-shop, providing hardware and services, as well as managing ad-hoc bandwidth and coverage when needed, which is vital for Van Oord as it is well known for operating in very remote regions.”

“Although Sealink offers near global coverage, if a particularly remote region is not covered, we will source temporary capacity from our satellite operator partners to ensure Van Oord’s ability to communicate, and therefore operate safely and efficiently.”

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