Smart Phone Use onboard


Yes, but a WiFi in your accommodation spaces won’t get the job being envisioned done. Extending the WiFi network to cover the majority of the boat would be cheaper and easier than other technology, but not a trivial exercise. In addition, emulating the cruise ship system would require some smart controls/servers to handle addressing and validation.
How are you feeding the accommodation space WiFi with Internet?


There is no job envisioned. The chances that WiFi will be extended beyond the house is close to zero as is the chance of emulating the cruise ship system. Not going to happen.

I took the OP as a hypothetical question. I am only saying that I agree that being able to text would be useful.

Internet comes via Inmarsat, antenna, hardware, wiring run etc done in the shipyard.


Traditional ships may have one repeater… the big new expensive ships typically have a extensive repeater system that works pretty well.


At least some of the TOI - RBF new builds from 2000 - 2005 time frame used used a leaky coax system to extend radio comms to more remote parts of the unit, columns and pontoons. It didn’t seem to work all that well though.


It’s already being done. Local LTE networks are used (better range and bulkhead penetration as compared to WiFi) on various rigs and interfaced with the PBX. This also allows wearables for PTW and electronic muster systems as well. Besides the communications which includes video from a tablet, the tech in expandable for these purposes.

Here is the most common systems in the GOM.


On modern cruise ship, nearly everybody of importance (including nearly all workers like plumbers, pool boy, etc) has a ship issued phone with unique extension (like a fixed phone). These systems are widely used and proven. Why not use one of these on a ship…quite easy to tie in to the existing hard-wired phone system. No need to reinvent the wheel.


I’m not sure if you’re agreeing or disagreeing with me, or just restating what i said???


Yes it is doable but whether or not it is economically justifiable is another thing. Big difference between a cruise ship with upwards of a 1000 crew dealing with several thousand passengers versus a cargo ship of around 20. Or perhaps a 20,000 TEU container ship versus one that is 2000 TEU. If I was an owner I would have to be given a good strong argument that makes it economically worth the expense.

Just sayin’.


We used DEC? Phones. Master,mate, chief engineer,second engineer and electrician had one with the them at all times. Ring any of them through the ship’s exchange which was linked to WiFi throughout the ship and they were on the blower straight away.
I have noticed that cruise ship masters always have one with them at all times as well.
It took a long bloody time for us to convince the office in the early days that a hand held VHF was quite unsuitable for shipboard communications unless you were on tankers where intrinsically safe UHF’s were supplied as standard.
I speak as one who sailed with docking telegraphs.


It would be interesting to have some details about this, some terminology, an acronym or two.


In the telephone world, “exchange” is where calls are switched or routed to the desired line or subscriber unit. In the olde days, this was accomplished through staggeringly complex electro-mechanical relay systems. Today, this can be accomplished much more easily with a solid-state cross-point switch and an appropriately smart computer. The big trick with any of these is the interface - in days of yore, it was all hard wire lines to the subscriber units, but now it can include members of a digital network. If you extend a digital network using radio (such as a WiFi network) then mobile devices can access the benefits of a centrally-controlled exchange.
These exchanges are much more robust than the electro-mechanical versions of olden times, but still require maintenance - for example, someone accidentally loses/breaks their subscriber unit, the system will need to be programmed to substitute a new replacement. Individual subscribers may need special handling rules for calls and messages - does an unanswered call to the Captain automatically re-route to the 1M? How do you handle voice mail? You get the gist!

Security is also a concern if the system allows interconnection with the “outside world” - whether via an Internet connection, or by someone accessing it via the radio ports from a point outside the ship.

Cruise ships use these systems because otherwise they would never be able to deal with the hundreds of crewmembers needs - for a smaller crew complement, they would provide a very useful system, but whether it was worth the cost is a question I can’t answer :slight_smile:

KPChief, “leaky coax” or Radiax systems are common in some land-based systems - tunnels and tall buildings in particular - but I can see why they would have issues onboard a ship with its steel surfaces everywhere - reflections are a killer in radio propagation analysis. They are also somewhat fragile, at least compared to conduit and piping.


re: Hartley & cell:
The evolving tech. will be reluctant to allow unmonitored commo: IE, where retail devices communicate outside “the system”.
Ham Radio has ALL these options all ready but you gotta be licensed.
on board repeater: AM radio would likely communicate much better on board but who wants to use AM radio? whereas FM radio (like a phone) provides commo below the ‘noise threshold’. only doesn’t get thru the ship too well.
re: onboard repeater: yes, expensive and on a tanker with questionable results when in a far away hold. one ship i know had a long antenna in the eng. room, I’d guess it was a quarter or 5/8 wave lengths long, probably a regular marine band fibre job but when you got closer to it allowed a Fm radio to work fine down there in place of a repeater. i think for the cost of a repeater people could get use to AM radios !!
likely crew will evolve but without some European or asian system will have to deal with ‘fringe’ type work arounds like now but eventually there will be implants for all this and it’ll be on sat systems and by then a onboard repeater may be viable, or many of them!!, coal mines and the like.
KD7XXX 73 !!


I left off the T . It was a DECT. Phone. Which stands for Digital enhanced something or other.
If you google DECT cordless and wireless paging systems 22.05.2013.indd -ShipServe the details are all there. The vessel was a seismic survey ship and it must have been fitted with the leaky cable bit as shown in the catalogue shown above.
I thought it worked of WiFi which we had throughout the accomodation but I was mistaken, but then all I was required to do was answer it. Senior management ashore also had the number which wasn’t the best.


Why would AM go through steel any better than FM?


it doesn’t really but it does go around corners, under doors and such better as it is omni directional whereas FM is a directional straight line wave. further; AM is audio modulated whereas FM is freq. modulated so band width issues are a consideration also.



I finally remembered the brand if anyone was still interested…Ascom. d81 EX Phone


P&I Club issues alert on use of smart phones on the bridge: