Mr Parente (left) handing over the items to Mr Jack

Laurent Parenté, Vanuatu Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) and representative of the Office of Government Chief Information Officer

(OGCIO), Mr. John Jack are pleased to see a maritime safety support program launched a few months ago by the Vanuatu Ambassador come to reality.

This project, implemented in partnership with the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO) to which Vanuatu is a State Party and Inmarsat Global Limited, has received the support of Jotham Napat, Minister of Infrastructure and Public utilities, the Commissioner of Maritime Affairs, Mr. Markmon Batie and was facilitated by Mr. Less Napuati (IMO Assistant), Mr. John Jack from the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and Mrs. Flora Bani from the Aid Coordination Unit of the Department of Strategic Planning, Policy and Aid Coordination, Prime Minister’s Office.

The Vanuatu Ambassador, who currently occupies the position of Vice Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the IMSO, indicated that a few months ago he expressed to Captain Moin Ahmed (IMSO Director General) his concerns over the lack of adequate communication services in Vanuatu waters and how satellite communication on board domestic Vanuatu vessels could greatly enhance safety of navigation in the archipelago.

After conducting the feasibility study of the proposal, the justification to broaden the scope of IMSO to embark in the field of Member States’ capacity-building was made as well as placing Vanuatu as the pilot country for this newly founded “Communication Safety Project”.

The industry leader and pioneer of mobile satellite communications “lnmarsat Global Limited” then kindly joined hands with IMSO to support this pilot project in Vanuatu starting with the in-kind provision and first install of five “Fleet One” devices (picture) plus a 3-month free communication service for a commercial value of roughly 3 million vatu.

Mr Parenté explained that Fleet One is specifically designed to meet the low data usage demands of occasional or seasonal users when they move out of VHF or GSM coverage area like in Vanuatu.

He added that Fleet One would deliver all Vanuatu Seafarers need to stay connected at sea – email and business-critical applications like weather reports and navigation charts, simultaneous voice and SMS texting, plus Inmarsat’s free ‘505’ safety service, which in an emergency directs a call straight through to a Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC).

OGCIO supports the project and indicated that once the National Emergency Telecommunication Cluster (currently under development with the OGCIO, TRR, NDMO, VPF, VMF, ISPs, Vanuatu Humanitarian Team, Media Outlets and Logistic Clusters) will be operational, all 505 calls could be directed to this Vanuatu dedicated emergency cluster to systematically coordinate response.

In the coming weeks, trainings will be conducted by Inmarsat experts to a local support team including the Masters of selected 5 domestic ships on the Fleet One communication device which will end with installation of 5 Fleet One units on board the selected 5 domestic ships. Mr Parenté feels positive about targeting to equip all 30 Vanuatu domestic ships trading interisland in the near future.

Surely, such an initiative will greatly improve safety of domestic Vanuatu vessels which are too often at sea with no means of communication throughout the archipelago when we all rely so much on mobile phone coverage and our mobile phones.

This project, fully initiated by Vanuatu Ambassador to the IMO, comes in addition to a similar project recently implemented with the Vanuatu Red Cross Society and the Vanuatu International Shipping Registry (VMSL).

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