July 24, 2003

USCG evaluates new Inmarsat service
Inmarsat's new Fleet F55 service is undergoing evaluation by the U.S. Coast Guard aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Shearwater. The evaluation follows extensive beta testing and launch of the Fleet F55 service in April 2003. It is part of Inmarsat's 2003 Maritime Field Evaluations (MFEs) program for the service.

An EMS Technologies Fleet F55 terminal has been installed on the Shearwater, an 87-foot Island Class coastal patrol vessel based out of Portsmouth, Va. Airtime for the evaluation is being provided by Telenor Satellite Services, Inc.

"The MFE being conducted with the U.S. Coast Guard is an excellent example of how Inmarsat successfully collaborates with manufacturer, LESO and customer to deliver a complex project that addresses operational communications requirements--with Inmarsat, Telenor Satellite Services, EMS and the U.S. Coast Guard working closely together," said Piers Cunningham, Senior Business Development Manager at Inmarsat and project leader for the MFEs.

The MFE will involve a review of several applications running across Fleet F55, such as email, web browsing, FTP, secure instant messaging, fax, digital image transfer, weather routing and other remote or utility applications specific to the operational requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard. It will also feature testing and comparisons of the service's 64 kbps ISDN and mobile packet data service capabilities, examining which situations are most suitable for using the two connections, when integrated into the vessel's daily operational communication requirements.

"The Coast Guard is migrating all enterprise applications to web-based technology, which will require high-speed data communications access, both underway and in port," said Alan Alto, U.S. Coast Guard Project Manager for the Fleet F55 MFE. "The larger cutter fleet has used the Inmarsat B HSD service, but there was no equipment suitable for the smaller platforms. The size and weight of the Fleet F55 system can be accommodated on these smaller vessels. The flexibility of voice, high-speed data, and MPDS technology available through the Fleet F55 service can offer the communications alternatives necessary to support the direction toward complete e-Coast Guard."

"In 19 years at sea, I never thought that real time video conferencing, messaging and weather updates would be possible whilst at sea, but here I am actually using it," said Master Chief William James, Officer-in-Charge of USCG Shearwater, during a video conference to Inmarsat in London while the Shearwater was underway conducting port security patrols off the coast of Virginia Beach, VA.

"This is a tremendous opportunity to put the Fleet F55 service through its paces. The demands now being placed on U.S. Coast Guard operations dictate that the smaller vessels in the fleet now require access to flexible voice and high-speed data communications, a capability the larger vessels have had for many years via Inmarsat," said Cunningham.

"They have a reputation for innovation and dependability - and we think that Fleet F55 is a perfect fit. We're looking forward to helping them use the service in some new and exciting ways" he said.

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