This month our ETO digs deep to share his tips for solving the most common AVIT problems onboard

Loss of Internet connectivity 

This is by far the most common and urgent issue to resolve. However, most vessels that require constant internet connectivity will have a redundant connection in place in case of the original source failing. This could be a 2nd VSAT, 4G Data, wireless or a WiMAX connection.

It’s always a good idea to check what redundancy you have in place for your vessel before you set sail, so you know what you’re dealing with if things do go wrong. And if there is no redundant connection, set one up!

Phone system down

If your phone system (PABX/Cisco CUCM) is down and you are not within GSM (cellular) range, it is possible to connect an analogue phone directly to a voice port in your VSAT provider’s router. This will enable you to make an emergency outbound phone call to tech support. Remember to check this with your VSAT provider before an emergency occurs, so that you can test and verify functionality.

Similarly, it is also possible to connect an analogue phone directly to the Fleet terminal and dial out that way.

TVRO (TV satellite dish) receiving no signal

Firstly, always ensure that there is an alternative method in place for delivering the important programmes and sport fixtures, eg those favoured by the owner and their guests. IP (internet protocol) streaming services are a popular alternative, with brands such as Slingbox, JetSelect & Omni PlexUS TV leading the way in the yachting industry.

Also clarify whether your local terrestrial provider has IP streaming services available (such as the Sky Go App, Katrina TV online, NBC Sports Gold App or Fubo.TV) and check it’s not GEO restricted.

For connectivity issues with your TVRO DAC (digital antennae control unit), make sure that you can connect to it directly with a separate cable to upgrade firmware and backup/restore configuration.

Lastly, ensure you get the dish manufacturer’s contact details at handover. Spares should be a critical component of your inventory, as parts often need replacing. Your manufacturer can recommend essential spares for the make and model of antennae.

Loss of power

Most equipment breakages occur due to an incorrect shutdown caused by loss of power. Installing an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) to supply smooth and reliable power to all AVIT equipment will ensure your equipment is protected, even in the event of ‘going black ship’.

You should also configure your UPS to initiate the proper shutdown procedure of critical equipment. This is especially important for virtualised environments & services which have databases (eg IDEA database, Cisco CUCM, NAS Storage), as here improper shutdown could cause loss of data and corruption.

Switches/Core router down

Backup your switches and core router configuration securely offline, as these can be prone to losing their configuration. Once this has been done, a switch’s configuration can easily be restored. Ensure you have a console cable for your switch type and a documented restore procedure.

You could also consider using a customisable terminal emulator, such as SecureCRT. This includes Secure Shell (SSH) support and Telnet terminal sessions to your equipment to backup configurations.

Those are the problems I face most often on the yachts I have worked on, and I know I’m not alone. I hope these tips help my fellow ETOs and AVIT Engineers, whether you are just starting out working on yachts or are well- established in the industry. I’d love to know if I’ve missed anything or anyone can develop my points further, so I’ll be on the look out for any responses.


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