Crew Internet Access

Morning all;

Long time lurker, first time poster…

Recently my company installed vSats on a fleet of vessels, and about half the bandwidth was reserved for the crew.
Internet access is becoming common on board for business purposes of course, for email and voice over ip phones in particular. But I find very few ships actually have dedicated bandwidth for their crew. Of course this doesn’t come cheap to the owner, but as we are all now connected all day long ashore, via mobile phones, and basically constant internet access, I see crew internet access as a big deal.

I know if I was still sailing (those days are long over!) I’d would put a premium on the owner that would provide internet to the crew. Maybe it would even be “worth” something to me, i.e. when choosing an employer I might make other concessions instead. For example: Owner A has internet but my rotations might be slightly longer vs Owner B. Basically it would be a strong “+” in the owner’s favor and would attract me. Maybe it would even be a small monthly amount ( a slightly lower pay?), or a small contribution towards th costs? I’m just wondering out loud here.
Having tramped around the world, awaiting the agent and a distant foreign port with his bundle of outdated letters from home, I know the importance of news from home.

As an owner, I know I’d want to get the best crew out there, and provide them internet is one way to attract best talent, and treating them right is the way to foster loyalty.

What do you guys say? Internet for crew on board, its value to you.

I’m ready to go and offer owners packages that meet your needs…

Eric

I think a good majority of crew would want access to the internet. Some people prefer to be disconnected and not deal with outside stuff…but I’m thinking most crew would find internet access good for any number of reasons. Access to VOIP phone service and emails would be appreciated by many. Access to social media and news would be nice too. There are all sorts of streaming entertainment options as well music, movies, tv…etc.

What might the downside be for the owners?

Guys using the wifi on their phones and laptops instead of doing the job they are being paid to do. You know… the guy supposed to be doing something on deck… and you find him checking his twitter or whatever on his phone. The company might not be interested in paying to put a distraction onboard.

Another issue can be security of the system… but a good IT firewall should be able to prevent unauthorized access. If it is a company system, I can also imagine they would restrict some content etc… Not sure if they could restrict data activity to prevent a user from using all the bandwith downloading movies or whatever.

Morning to you

Long time lurker, first time poster…

why are you lurking…looking for a nip slip or something?

Recently my company installed vSats on a fleet of vessels, and about half the bandwidth was reserved for the crew.
Internet access is becoming common on board for business purposes of course, for email and voice over ip phones in particular. But I find very few ships actually have dedicated bandwidth for their crew. Of course this doesn’t come cheap to the owner, but as we are all now connected all day long ashore, via mobile phones, and basically constant internet access, I see crew internet access as a big deal.

I know if I was still sailing (those days are long over!) I’d would put a premium on the owner that would provide internet to the crew. Maybe it would even be “worth” something to me, i.e. when choosing an employer I might make other concessions instead. For example: Owner A has internet but my rotations might be slightly longer vs Owner B. Basically it would be a strong “+” in the owner’s favor and would attract me. Maybe it would even be a small monthly amount ( a slightly lower pay?), or a small contribution towards th costs? I’m just wondering out loud here.
Having tramped around the world, awaiting the agent and a distant foreign port with his bundle of outdated letters from home, I know the importance of news from home.

As an owner, I know I’d want to get the best crew out there, and provide them internet is one way to attract best talent, and treating them right is the way to foster loyalty.

What do you guys say? Internet for crew on board, its value to you.

putting a Vsat or other internet capablility on a vessel is not crew driven at all but for the business of the vessel. Charter clients demand it for their needs, offices want to communicate with their captains easier and quicker. Important information needs to be transmitted to vessels from offices and visa versa. VOIP is a necessity these days for instant telephone comms. Are you thinking the crews will pay for your services?

I’m ready to go and offer owners packages that meet your needs…

Eric

Don’t know what you are making a sales pitch to us here? We’re vessel trash and don’t make the decisions. Joe Boss and his office minions is you need to make your pitch to. They have the money. Btw, you a competitor to CapRock and RigNet? They are pretty big fish in the business and I well imagine like to eat little fry who swim in front of their mouths.

c.captain, first off, stop being a troll.

Secondly, you’re partially correct about the clients wanting it for their data needs, however the crew is definitely being considered as well.

Thirdly, not everyone that uses the gCaptain forum is “vessel trash” as you call it, so don’t just assume that the comments you make are only read by people like you.

[QUOTE=rob;141647]c.captain, first off, stop being a troll. [/QUOTE]

OUCH! OK point taken and post deleted without you needing to do so yourself. I admit I have been ranting quite a bit this morning. Got to go out now anyway. The ORCA needs a new main switchboard.

So I have a question, why have you guys not picked up the WSF story yet about the TACOMA?

I think a good majority of crew would want access to the internet. Some people prefer to be disconnected and not deal with outside stuff…but I’m thinking most crew would find internet access good for any number of reasons. Access to VOIP phone service and emails would be appreciated by many. Access to social media and news would be nice too. There are all sorts of streaming entertainment options as well music, movies, tv…etc.

What might the downside be for the owners?

Guys using the wifi on their phones and laptops instead of doing the job they are being paid to do. You know… the guy supposed to be doing something on deck… and you find him checking his twitter or whatever on his phone. The company might not be interested in paying to put a distraction onboard.

Another issue can be security of the system… but a good IT firewall should be able to prevent unauthorized access. If it is a company system, I can also imagine they would restrict some content etc… Not sure if they could restrict data activity to prevent a user from using all the bandwith downloading movies or whatever.

Good points.
Streaming can be a real bandwidth hog, so most internet crew firewalls will likely be set to block that, though that is the owners’ choice at the end of the day. A better option is to download once and distribute many times on board. So the ship side server can be configured to download -say- the BBC World News daily video clip, and a number of other relevant compressed videos.

Yes, owners usually ask us to restrict access to certain obvious sites. No porn while at work, amongst other things. Just like in office settings.

Individual phone access is indeed a problem. Both from the safety standpoint of course but again the bandwidth standpoint. We’ve seen ships where half the crew bandwidth goes to updating phones and tablets. Kind of a waste of expensive airtime to update your Angry Birds to the latest version. Updates can be controlled via firewall and you only get to update when the ship is connected to wifi (or even 4G if you choose) to the shore. It’s easy to have auto fall back systems where you connect via wifi (everything is then allowed, or almost), then fall-back to 4G (a little more restrictive), 3g (restrictive), vSat (normal configuration for crew access) and Fbb if you lose the vSat (rare, but at that point all bandwidth goes to business only).

The safety aspect is already there anyways: We’ve all brought our laptops to the bridge or engine room, and we could realistically play Call of Duty whilst on watch. Or go old style and bring a book. A phone/tablet is just another distraction but not widely different in my opinion.

But you are right, we need to address that with owners’ as we’re pitching systems to them. The solution might be simple anyways: Ships are big faraday cages by design, so limiting wifi signal happens naturally, and by simple installation we could restrict wifi signals to reach only the living quarters in the accommodation block, but not reach the bridge or ECR?

And for those who want to disconnect, nothing is forcing them to use the access… There is an “off” button on all our gadgets, though I will admit to being the first to not use it often enough. Addictive little things they are!

Eric

When I sailed through the Northeast Passage on an icebreaker, we had free and unrestricted Internet access and satellite phone for almost all the way from Alaska to Norway. I hate to admit but that did take away some of the magic of the last great adventure…

Not being a professional seafarer and only knowing one from the family, I don’t know how much I’d be willing to pay out from my salary to have Internet access at sea. However, in today’s world where working for a ship has become “just a job” and most seafarers are “normal people”, I can understand how offering a cheap and easy way to stay in touch with friends and family even at sea would be attractive to someone looking for a new company. After all, isn’t Internet access already considered something of a human right on the shoreside?

As for Saltgrain’s concern about people using smartphones at work, I can share it through my father. He’s doing basic maintenance (removing rust, painting etc.) as an extra crew member on a passenger ship, working with kids who are sometimes 40-45 years younger than him and not really interested in such work. He often complains about those endless tobacco breaks during which the phones always come out. Even if most people would not use their phones, laptops, tablets and whatnot in a way that would distract them from work, it only takes one guy to collide with the platform while taking a selfie for Facebook…

I thought all the drilling companies and all the big OSV operators have wifi? I know ours is restricted no porn or music steaming services and a few other things. It was rolled out to most of the fleet in 2012 I believe. The routers are biased toward the wired company laptops for official business. If it gets to bogged down we have the ETO check the system out and block whatever site has become the big offender. Satellite phone is there if needed in an emergency. Our newer vessels have a second vsat pedestal for future client needs.

internet helps crew feel like they are still connected to the outside world. I believe it can help boost morale

We have VSAT on board, and I do appreciate the ease of communication, but now problems at home follow you offshore. Work used to be a little respite from the BS on shore.

I just made the move from crewboats (back at the dock every day or every couple of days) to OSVs (could be offshore for weeks), and not being able to communicate with the family would be a deal-breaker for me.

As a supervisor, I’m not terribly worried about crew distractions. This is easily handled through company policy or vessel rules - no cell phone use during your watch.

I thought all the drilling companies and all the big OSV operators have wifi?

Probably true. Getting these ships on line is a lot easier and cheaper (usually staying under one satellite) than the blue water ships. If in the USG then the signal is better and stronger also and doesn’t require a bigger antenna.

I do view Internet as being a “human right” even if it is one for the “rich” humans in a way still. Many are still struggling to get potable water.
Yet on blue water ships full decent Internet for the crew is fairly rare. Maybe that alone would push me towards OSVs rather than tramping on crude oil tankers like I did in my youth if I ever went back to sea? (You’d better watch out cause I’d be rather dangerous nowadays!)

I often hear ship owners complain they can’t find crew, can’t keep them for any length of time, etc… Seems to me that treating them right nowadays isn’t just about salary and rotation, type of ship, how decent the cabin is, the food, and so on, but also includes newer morale boosters like TV streams, some internet, with reasonable Skype ability, staying connected.

I loved the “ships used to allow us to get away”… So true! Getting back at sea used to be so blissful because for the most part you’d disappear for a few weeks, and you’d get very few contacts. A couple of telexes a day, but no phone calls, no emails, etc…

Thanks your input all;
Eric

NOAA has wifi. At sea, streaming is discouraged, due to cost and lack of bandwidth but it’s nice to get internet and email.

And it helps with job hunting! (wink wink, nudge nudge)

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As someone who spends more than half their life at sea, not having internet access onboard is a DEFINITE dealbreaker! I will never again work for any company that doesn’t have the basic concern for crew welfare as to provide at least basic access so a person could keep up with LIFE at home (pay bills, call/email home for important events, etc).
We are all used to having instant access ashore now. It’s NOT like it was even 20 years ago, no one at home will accept you’re being at sea as an excuse any more. Oh yeah, I couldn’t pay my electric bill cause I was offshore for a month. Yeah, riiiiiight, try that and see if you get reimbursed for a freezer full of rotten meat!

Harvey gulf had a much better inet service than chouest. Chouest is slow slow.
but i guess if harvey wants to run the boats from the office, then the need to pay
for the extra bandwith…heaven forbid the inet went out and the vessel unable to get
permission to fill the daytanks with fuel. Bad things would happen then…safety is priceless!

We have wifi aboard the vessel i work on and its a huge morale booster. Skyping the wife once a week and streaming music makes life a little more normal when youre far from friends amd loved ones for an extended period. And whats the deal with certain companies blocking porn? Thats cruel.

[QUOTE=txh2oman;141716]I just made the move from crewboats (back at the dock every day or every couple of days) to OSVs (could be offshore for weeks), and not being able to communicate with the family would be a deal-breaker for me.

As a supervisor, I’m not terribly worried about crew distractions. This is easily handled through company policy or vessel rules - no cell phone use during your watch.[/QUOTE]

I’m not busting your balls or trying to be a smart ass but this goes back to a post I made months back. People these days don’t know what it’s like to “go to sea.” Being a mariner means going out to sea and losing touch with the shore based world for periods of time. Things have changed a lot in the last 10 plus years and I understand they will continue to change. If not being able to call home every day would be a “deal breaker” you probably need to consider another profession.

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[QUOTE=greenhorn;142068]Harvey gulf had a much better inet service than chouest. Chouest is slow slow.
but i guess if harvey wants to run the boats from the office, then the need to pay
for the extra bandwith…heaven forbid the inet went out and the vessel unable to get
permission to fill the daytanks with fuel. Bad things would happen then…safety is priceless![/QUOTE]

You are probably the 3rd of 4th person mention that Harvey Gulf makes their vessels get permission from the office to fill day tanks. Why in the holy hell is it necessary to call the office to do this?

[/QUOTE]You are probably the 3rd of 4th person mention that Harvey Gulf makes their vessels get permission from the office to fill day tanks. Why in the holy hell is it necessary to call the office to do this?[/QUOTE]

That is a very good question. Who’s filling the day tank? Wiper, OS, galley worker?

Licensed engineers…

Is it their older designed vessels or the new STX vessels? If it’s the newer vessels it’s a fairly simple system I don’t understand the fuss. This is obviously a reaction to a rash of spills.