Satellite communications giant Inmarsat has announced the wider roll-out of its COVID-19 video telemedicine call service.
First announced in April 2020, the technology allows Inmarsat’s users high-speed Fleet Xpress service to contact crew healthcare specialist VIKAND’s team of expert health professionals for COVID-19-related medical questions. Inmarsat reports that this service is now live and available on more than 150 vessels with a further 1,000-plus vessels in the pipeline.
“Inmarsat recognises the unprecedented situation facing seafarers and their need for certainty in communication, as the global maritime industry responds to the challenges of COVID-19,” said Ronald Spithout, president of Inmarsat Maritime. “These new initiatives, together with those we have already launched, alleviate one of the core concerns crew face as they go about the business of keeping world trade moving day in, day out.”
Other efforts initiated by Inmarsat to ramp up its support for the seafaring community during the COVID-19 pandemic include setting up collaborations with the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) to ensure that seafarers stay connected without the burden of additional financial anxiety.
As such, Inmarsat is now offering crew access to ISWAN’s SeafarerHelp portal and live chat function via the company’s new onboard Wi-Fi portal, Fleet Hotspot, as well as continuing to provide free voice phone calls to the service. SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline, which offers support and assistance to seafarers and their families around the world. The helpline service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and seafarers can get in touch via a range of contact methods, including live chat, email, and telephone.
Roger Harris, ISWAN’s executive director, said, “We’re delighted to be working with Inmarsat to bring our helpline service to even more seafarers during this crisis. As you can imagine, SeafarerHelp has been extremely busy over the last three months as crew face the impact of being stranded on board and the loss of employment. Offering free access to SeafarerHelp on Fleet Hotspot will make it easier for crew on board these vessels to access support and assistance wherever they are in the world, day or night.”
Inmarsat is also continuing to offer satellite phones to port chaplains in ports where a number of seafarers are stranded and have no access to the internet.