Briese Schiffahrts has selected Globecomm Maritime to provide its Ku-band VSAT services to ensure its fleet of approximately 132 ships are connected to shore 24/7.

Holger Börchers, IT manager at Briese Schiffahrts, said that the relationship it holds with Globecomm goes back 16 years and has been integral to its crew communications strategy.

“Our communications strategy goes back some years to a company meeting that discussed the challenge of attracting and retaining good crew,” said Börchers. “Nowadays you hear this story widely, but back then there was less recognition that it was about more than just the salary, we had to improve crew welfare by keeping them in touch with their friends and families.”

The importance of acquiring and retaining competent staff cannot be overestimated. Briese operates sophisticated multipurpose vessels, some with heavy lift capacity and moveable decks - a task that is carried out by the crew, not by stevedores.

Globecomm VSAT is a high-capacity end-to-end service integrating shipboard hardware and monitoring tools to provide maximum service performance and the broadest coverage, says Briese. The service supports a broad range of applications over a robust, scalable, managed network designed to deliver shared services and private networks to customers in maritime and energy markets.

“My argument to management has always been this: don’t think of it just as a cost, think of it as being an additional seafarer onboard who takes care of the welfare of the other guys,” said Börchers. “Having Globecomm VSAT onboard makes managing demand for crew and our business communications simpler and more efficient.”

Crew access is prepaid via Globecomm’s Nimbus smartbox system and allows crewmembers to connect their own personal devices via selected Wi-Fi access points. Added value services include firewall and content filtering, advanced email management, a prepaid crew management portal, with network monitoring and 24/7 global support.

The systems are also being used to improve vessel performance. Globecomm provides a secure web portal, Cirrus, for ship and shoreside users alike. In combination with the Nimbus smartbox, Briese is able to segregate network traffic and monitor the network’s performance in a secure environment.

Working with the Globecomm development team, Briese has developed a system for automatically updating ECDIS navigation chart data, securely. Using Nimbus also means that whenever Briese needs to install a new PC it can be pre-configured and delivered ready to use, avoiding the need for complicated network or software set-up by the crew.

“When you have a fleet of 132 ships you need visibility. The next step will be for us to have better access to the vessel systems. It’s hard for a small IT department to monitor everything that is happening, but we want to be able to respond not just after we are aware of any potential problems,” said Börchers.

Briese is rolling out the Globecomm VSAT system across its owned and managed fleet. 60 percent of its vessels to date have been upgraded from L-Band systems. The upgraded vessels feature a combination of a Sailor 900 VSAT terminal, one or more Iridium OpenPort L-Band system as a back-up, and the Globecomm Nimbus network management smartbox.