Inmarsat adapts Fleet Xpress for offshore support vessels
Inmarsat has launched a new set of Fleet Xpress plans designed specifically to meet the technical and commercial requirements of offshore support vessels (OSVs). The new plan exploits the technical capabilities inherent to Fleet Xpress, such as high-speed connections and guaranteed performance, to offer vessel operators levels of flexibility that are naturally suited to the demanding requirements of a high-end sector such as offshore support. It recognises that connectivity needs onboard OSVs change frequently and that swings in data usage are likely to be more pronounced than for conventional cargo ships by accommodating free upgrades and downgrades in service levels during the 36-month contract period. When on-hire, the appetite for bandwidth from OSVs can be immense. Projects often generate considerable volumes of data that need sending back to shore for analysis, with third-party contractors onboard and an intense working environment. Furthermore, OSV operators also traditionally are generous with crew welfare. Supported by a 1m antenna, Fleet Xpress for OSVs delivers committed information rates of up to 3Mbps for uploads and 6Mbps for downloads with a standard antenna, climbing to 5Mbps and 10Mbps respectively with an enhanced antenna. When off-hire, a more economic 128kbps/128Kbps link may be sufficient to keep core operational data exchange ticking over. This elasticity means that OSV operators can utilise the full potential of Fleet Xpress for the duration of a project and then switch to a narrower ‘standby’ link between projects, also avoiding early termination costs. A network service device (NSD) manages bandwidth and regulates the flow of data traffic between the vessel and shore. The offer also includes provision for owners to suspend services for up to 180 days, subject to equivalent contract term extension. “The global footprint of Fleet Xpress means OSVs can count on reliable connectivity wherever in the world they are deployed,” says Eric Griffin, VP Maritime, Offshore Energy and Fisheries, Inmarsat. “Unlike conventional VSAT installations, Fleet Xpress is designed for seamless global mobility and automated satellite and beam switching, supported by the added resilience of unlimited FleetBroadband back-up. Inmarsat satellites are supported by redundant land-based infrastructure to ensure network availability, as defined in the service level agreements that form part of a subscription.” In addition, the new set of OSV plans can be used in conjunction with new hardware from existing terminal manufacturers that will provide a dual antenna solution to minimise outages caused by line of sight blockages, a common occurrence for OSV vessels due to their proximity to rigs and operating in high seas. This will be managed by a single antenna control unit that will handle the service and seamless switching between antennas. “The connectivity requirements of offshore support vessels place unique demands on satellite operators. Successful and timely completion of a contract is increasingly dependent on a highly resilient, high-capacity data link. The technology behind Fleet Xpress has the capacity to meet these demands and our new plan sets a precedent in joining the dots between the technical requirements and commercial realities of OSV operation and highlights how Fleet Xpress can be used in the energy sector,” said Mr Griffin.