Marseille, France, headquartered offshore services giant Bourbon has signed a contract committing more than 100 offshore support vessels to Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress maritime broadband service.
The deal is a breakthrough offshore services sector contract for Fleet Xpress, which is already installed on some 7,000 vessels, but mainly seagoing merchant ships.
“This contract is substantial in its own right and underlines that Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress solution offers the same compelling business case on vessel efficiency and crew welfare for the energy sector as it does in the merchant shipping arena,” says Eric Griffin, VP Offshore Energy, Inmarsat Maritime. “Commercial shipping is using Fleet Xpress as its pathway to maritime digitalization; now, the value of joining that journey is being acknowledged by one of the leading marine offshore service providers in the world.”
SMART SHIPPING PROGAM
Back in 2017, Bourbon unveiled an action plan (called #BOURBONINMOTION) action plan that included shedding 41 of its older fleet and putting its focus on a Smart Shipping Program that seeks to leverage digital and connectivity tools to reduce fleet operating costs. Set for completion by 2021, the program envisages deployment on 133 smart vessels.
“The time has come for operational intelligence: connected vessels, use of predictive maintenance, shore-based control centers, rationalization of tasks, etc.,” says Bourbon CEO Gaël Bodénès. “Automation of onboard systems is already a reality for our seafarers and we must all innovate at speed to invent our business model and our professions of tomorrow.”
Fexibility wa san essential ingredient in securing the Bourbon deal, says Inmarsat’s Griffin. “The service provider could raise or lower bandwidth usage as necessary, or even suspend it on a planned basis without penalty,” he says. “An important aspect of Fleet Xpress is that third party charterers could run their own Fleet Xpress services via a dedicated ‘pipe’ without interrupting the primary bandwidth being provided to an OSV. Customers chartering OSVs can therefore manage their own ‘smart’ vessel performance with full flexibility, using existing terminals and hardware on board.”
All vessels covered in the agreement will feature advanced 3-axis stabilized antennas from Cobham, specifically developed for and approved by Inmarsat for the Global Xpress satellite network.
Among the first of Bourbon’s fleet to migrate to Fleet Xpress will be a group of high-end subsea vessels whose data consumption and management needs are ready for IoT-based solutions. These vessels also feature dual satellite terminals with high-powered amplifiers for additional redundancy. The Bourbon vessels will take advantage of bandwidth, stability and reliability, in the first instance to step up the use of video conferencing. Real time video feeds are also expected to feature in ROV operations, with digitalization ultimately expected to touch every aspect of vessel management.