The first such move by a shipbuilder not only extends support for ship operators in relation to digital maintenance of new ships but also paves the way for existing vessels to be retrofitted in the future. It also takes shipping into a new mode of operation in which shipbuilders, like aircraft manufacturers, continue to have a service function during a ship’s lifetime.
Ronald Spithout, Inmarsat Maritime president, explained that Hyundai will now be able to deliver a ship already installed with dedicated bandwidth through Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress or FleetBroadband services operating over Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) satellite network. This will enable the shipbuilder to provide an after-sales service to manage a vessel’s shipboard systems.
“Not only are they producing a connected vessel, but they are also servicing the vessel,” Spithout told journalists are Nor-Shipping on Wednesday.
The latest development comes just a few days after the satellite communications company announced that Airbus has been contracted to build three new satellites to increase capacity on its GX network, the basis for Fleet Xpress and FleetBroadband services. The investment comes in response to booming demand for satellite communications from shipowners and operators.
The electrically-powered Airbus satellites and related technologies will be “backwards compatible” with existing Fleet Xpress terminals and will underpin what the company described as a “transformational upgrade” to Fleet Xpress, launched in 2016. The service now has 7,000 ship installations, an annualised increase of more than 2,000 vessels.
The London-listed company will take delivery of a fifth satellite later this year and will then have five more units under construction for delivery by 2023.