The relationship between a superyacht owner and their crew is not often discussed but is critical to the efficient and safe running of any yacht. Whether or not an owner has a happy working relationship with their crew can mean the difference between a well-run and relaxed environment and complacency, which can lead to an unsafe boat. It is a very different relationship to a typical 9-5 office job with boundaries and discretion required at all times. Above all, the crew must be happy and healthy, and this will in turn ensure an excellent working relationship with the yacht owner.
The impact of COVID-19 has been felt across the maritime sector with most ports restricting or prohibiting crew changes. In the superyacht industry, the crew change crisis that is so evident in the merchant shipping or cruise sector has not caused the same problems. However, at the same time, no matter what the vessel, a happy boat is a safe boat and therefore it’s essential that crew on board have an acceptable standard of living on board. General wellbeing is essential as they are the cogs that keep the yacht going – and a critical ingredient for this success is communications.
Though superyachts may utilize a range of connectivity from Wi-Fi to cellular, satellite plays an essential role in enabling connectivity when the yacht is out of range of any terrestrial communications. Teams working on board superyachts depend on satellite connectivity to communicate and use their own devices and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, which can be a drain on the system. This is even more critical when the owner or charterers are on board. It’s vital, therefore, that the system in use must offer high performance and efficiency at all times.
Peace of mind at a difficult time
Many crew members will have grown up as digital natives and therefore have many of the same needs as vessel owners such as access to email, financial services, social media, the ability to communicate with loved ones and streaming services to keep them entertained. In today’s environment especially, where the pandemic has caused heightened anxiety, connectivity is even more critical. If a crew member’s mind is not ‘on the job’ the chance of an accident is raised and if crew members do not have sufficient access to communications, this can have a damaging impact on morale.
Satellite Service providers are doing what they can to help crew stay in touch with family and friends and the world outside by establishing flexible and affordable plans and programs that include money off calling cards and upgrades to data plans, for example. Furthermore, if there is a medical emergency on-board, a yacht equipped with satellite connectivity can link the crew with medical professionals based on land via video over IP. Otherwise, an injured or sick crew member may have to call for helicopter assistance or change course to the nearest port. Not only is this costly to the yacht owner, but it could endanger lives if the crew cannot reach help in time.
Efficiency and flexibility built in
It is essential that superyacht owners and their ETOs select a platform which is both flexible and scalable and allows all necessary applications whilst also ensuring the most efficient and cost-effective operation. ST Engineering iDirect’s platforms, for example, allow operators and service providers to offer their services via a single platform, increasing efficiency, scalability and flexibility, while lowering operating expenditure.
A number of ST Engineering iDirect’s customers have devised new and innovative processes to eliminate or reduce the need for field engineers to carry out installation and commissioning in person. This has enabled the upgrade of vessels to our range of platforms without putting the field engineers, crew, and others at risk. In addition, remote training sessions have been offered to ensure that customers are confident with, and that they are able to get the very best out of, the platform whilst enhancing their skills. This is all backed up with support centers in The U.S., Belgium and Singapore that offer ‘follow the sun’ capability.
The right partner
There has never been a time when having the right partner is as important, with satellite communications playing an even more crucial role today in keeping crews connected as they remain out at sea for longer periods of time or even in self isolation. ST Engineering iDirect offers the most suitable platform for any application and budget so that yacht owners can be safe in the knowledge that both themselves and their crew have access to the connectivity that will enhance their on-board experience, but also keep them safe.
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