Inmarsat has partnered with the International Mobile Satellite Organisation (IMSO) to launchea pilot project that aims to promote and improve maritime safety in the Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu.
Inmarsat has provided five of its Fleet One units under the initiative, which are designed to offer data to the seasonal or sporadic users when they move out of very high frequency (VHF) or global system for mobile communication (GSM) coverage areas.
The solution also supplies seafarers with sufficient data availability to download weather reports and navigational updates, and access emails for operational reasons, as well as make simultaneous voice calls and send SMS texts.
Inmarsat will provide free data usage for three months as part of the capacity-building pilot project, in addition to its 505 emergency and distress calling service on a permanent basis.
The five Fleet One units will be installed on the 20m Valerie landing craft, the 28.5m Warringa tugboat and three cargo / passenger vessels known as Makila, Kiwi Trader, and Vanuatu Ferry.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has endorsed the pilot programme, which has also seen the participation of the Government of Vanuatu.
Inmarsat safety and security senior vice-president Peter Broadhurst said: “In small island states, vessels mostly operate on coastal routes or in domestic waters between neighbouring islands.
“Despite providing a lifeline to the communities they serve, vessels sometimes don’t have their own lifeline if something goes wrong.
“They can be poorly equipped to communicate in an emergency and often rely on mobile phones, which can go out of range.”
The pilot project will help Vanuatu establish a National Emergency Telecommunication Cluster, which will link various governmental departments, humanitarian agencies and logistics services.