The maritime sphere embraces modern technology at a fast pace where new technology never before used here makes appearances and shifts the landscape of the industry. Before, we discussed robotics and its potential uses in the maritime industry; opening new innovations to aspects such as rescue and salvage operations. However, the topic here is Internet aboard ships as Wi-Fi networks are growing in prominence not only shoreside but aboard ships and offshore installations; having potential to change daily operations aboard.
It is no secret that the industry was different in older times where operations were carried out differently due to a number of reasons; predominantly issues with communication which took longer. According to Herwardkar from Marineinsight.com, (2014) the first corporation to establish a network aboard all their vessels was MAERSK Tanker Management.
Right off the bat, judging from Internet being a part of a communication technology aspect thus improvements are directly done to this very sector; making it faster, instant and more efficient therefore speeding up operations and boosting productivity of the vessel. The Internet is a global inter-connected chain of information which is shared from all over the world by people of varied experiences and professions, including maritime therefore provides a whole array of useful tools to fix certain problems aboard.
Though ships have specialists aboard that are capable of addressing and fixing the same problems, occasional anomalies may arise that they never seen before. In times of said anomalies, the specialists have the chance to look it up online and fix the problems and learn how to in long term. The fact that a lot of information circulates around the Internet while constantly being updated and released live almost single-handedly holds up the positive aspects of Internet onboard.
Looking up solutions to anomalous problems is not the only benefit of Internet as other variables deserve just as much attention. Enter laws and legal requirements which keep changing due to circumstances at sea; an area of relative instability to rival shoreside in the modern world. In the past, vessels may have made mistakes due to not being updated on newer laws passed in recent history therefore suffered the consequences as not knowing the law does not excuse its violation. In this situation, crew can stay updated on maritime laws and their requirements while observing their own vessels for compliance to said laws. Along with helping in navigation by providing weather information as well as conditions at sea.
Another positive aspect of Internet implementation aboard ships is the test of this technology in extreme situations therefore improving its operation with visible problems that will be solved with more advancements. The modern world thrives and expands with communication and organisation where the latter is enhanced by the former thus Internet access in more places will be possible after more test runs such as at sea, with more distance from shoreside. Finally, the most obvious positive aspect of onboard Internet is facilitation of contact with shoreside figures such as family along with other affairs crew members may have engaged in; examples include payment of bills, purchases and personal commitment.
Internet aboard ships is also useful for determining the fuel consumption aboard the vessel. Fuel costs 1000$ per ton while ships burn from 20 to 70 tons per day depending on different variables. The Internet allows engineers to monitor fuel consumption and take action upon the ship inching over expected usage.
Finally, Internet on commercial and even some tourist/cruise vessels can be useful in anti-piracy operations as it allows installation of surveillance equipment which records and stores footage which can be sent shoreside via the new connection. The footage then informs security forces about armaments and tactics employed by pirates, giving their positions as well; allowing for better rescue operations; along with shortening time of arrival of security forces.
However, there also arise negative factors of this upgrade which involve onboard social life, distractions from duty, expenses associated with installations along with offensive posts that maybe published by crew who maybe frustrated at something. Crew may skip on their responsibilities by getting distracted and even addicted to Internet usage as with anything relatively new within a localised environment where interaction is compelling and engaging for the residents.
The Internet has other applications aside from simple communication in the modern times where gaming grows more prominent and gathers more interest even from older demographics and therefore becomes more easily accessible which also contributes to skipping on duties and even interfering with bridge operations as online gaming interferes and takes up alot of bandwidth therefore causing the interference.
So far, the most prominent issues with Internet aboard ships were discussed and were put into perspective where crew were the main focus as the installation targets them; with special attention to commercial vessels such as tankers where crew attention is paramount for effective operations. However, passenger vessels are no exception to this rule as now they saw a radical upgrade courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines.Carnival Cruise Lines launchers a “hybrid” high speed wireless network where one of the priorities were to generate more interests in taking a cruise vacation.