Anglo-Eastern is in pole position to drive this major transformation across our managed fleet, with our first formal installations of Starlink’s maritime broadband service celebrated in March.
Part of a preliminary order, the initial lucky dozen comprised vessels of various ship types and trading patterns in order to trial the service across a number of scenarios before broader roll-out in the months ahead.
Given the immense excitement generated by the trial, both amongst seafarers and owners, four additional installations have since been performed, with another 80+ already confirmed – this despite the fact the trial report has yet to be formally communicated! At this rate, the original estimate of at least 200 installations in 2023 alone may be a tad conservative.
“At Anglo-Eastern, we are fortunate to have many forward-thinking clients who are willing to make investments for their crews,” said chief information officer Torbjorn Dimblad on the keen interest. After all, the benefits are diverse and many, offering a significant competitive advantage to those who sign up for the service, from happier crew to better sea-shore communications and safer operations.
“We quietly started our journey a year ago, when Starlink first announced its ‘RV’ service,” recounted Mr Dimblad. “Once installed on several vessels, we knew immediately it was a game-changer. Overnight, these ships became as connected as any office or home, affording the crew unprecedented access to friends and family while enabling an entirely new level of collaboration between ship and shore.”
He sees the introduction of Starlink Maritime as arriving at a perfect time. “Part of our digitalisation journey was to standardise our hardware on board. Since 2020, we have commissioned over 600 data centres and replaced 5,000 workstations across the fleet. The underlying infrastructure is now in place to leverage the accelerated connectivity.”
At the same time, satellite service providers have reported significant increases in the demand for bandwidth, fuelled by the pandemic as well as new technology solutions on board. Starlink adds terabytes of network capacity, with low latency at a competitive price. In terms of actual data, ships installed with Starlink have reported onboard speeds of 30 to 40 Mbps on average versus only 0.25 to 2 Mbps by VSAT.
“Initially, all of that additional bandwidth will go to doing what we do today, only more of it and faster” said chief executive officer Bjorn Hojgaard. “The addition of Starlink’s LEO network – and OneWeb and Project Kuiper thereafter – will change life on board in a way that we have never experienced in the history of shipping. Soon seafarers will be ‘always-on’, enjoying the same connectivity as ashore, with the ship becoming a seamless extension of the office, where team members are just closer to the machinery.
“If an issue arises on board that requires support, the vessel team can launch a Teams video call to ask for a hand. During off-hours, the latest movies or television shows can be streamed live from home, while one crew member posts to their YouTube vlog and another two attend an online seminar together. The possibilities are endless, and I believe this will help make our industry safer and more attractive for current and future generations.”
Indeed, Kumar Sundaram, senior project manager responsible for overseeing the installation, has witnessed this first-hand amongst our fleet’s early adopters: “Crew are now participating in family events live, some are doing their DG Shipping revalidation training/assignments online, they can attend career development programmes live, including our own training centre courses via Webex, while safety committee meetings can be conducted over Teams. So much more can be done; this is just the beginning.”
Not surprisingly, our seafarers’ immediate reaction was one of awe and excitement, with many online liking and sharing the news in social media stories and posts with such comments as “Game changer in seafarer wellbeing”, “Proud”, “Excited for it!” and “Anglo-Eastern getting the best for everyone!”
“When I met Bjorn in Hong Kong in October 2019, my first question for him was, ‘When are we getting broadband-like speeds on our ships?’” said Mr Sundaram on reflection of our sea-shore connectivity journey. “He smiled and replied, ‘I am waiting for that with the same eagerness. Anglo-Eastern will surely be there when it happens’. Three years later, that dream and question has been answered: we are there.”