The shipmanagement arm of the Columbia Group, Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM), is conducting trials of the new Starlink satellite internet service on a number of vessels.
This satcoms service, provided by a constellation of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites operated by SpaceX, is designed to deliver reliable and high-speed internet connectivity to ships across all sectors of the maritime industry, including cruise ships and ferries.
Columbia Group CEO, Mark O’Neil, said: “We are delighted to be trialling this technology to keep our ships better connected. Starlink has the potential to revolutionise the maritime industry by providing reliable and affordable internet connectivity to ships, even in the most remote parts of the world. This can help improve crew welfare, reduce costs, and enhance safety and security, making it a game-changer for the industry.
“Columbia is committed to our excellent crew and as part of our ICARE philosophy, we focus on different aspects of crew welfare, connectivity being one of them, so we are very pleased to be adopting this new technology among our fleet,” he said.
Starlink is also expected to help cruise companies reduce costs associated with traditional satellite internet services, and provide better connections for crew members, as well as add a new level of guest experience, enabling them to enjoy high-speed connectivity at sea.
The satcoms can also enhance safety and security by offering a reliable connectivity in remote areas, enabling better communication with stakeholders, emergency services and authorities, as well as enable real time data exchange and communication.
Real time data exchange is important to enable a vessel to become a connected EDGE endpoint integrated into the owners or shipmanagers operations.
Starlink can facilitate remote monitoring of vessel performance and maintenance needs, allowing for proactive maintenance scheduling and reducing the risk of unplanned downtime. This can help improve vessel availability and reliability, as well as reduce costs associated with maintenance and repairs.
CSM is exploring Starlink in conjunction with a SD WAN (Software defined wide area network) in order to combine proven satellite internet technology, as well as cellular 5G near shore connectivity into a unified communications package that will enhance every aspect of maritime operations.