Furthest maritime broadband transmission without satellite or cellular network

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SeaFi is an alternative to satelite and celullar connectivity at sea. Taking advantage of the latest breakthrough in marine wireless data communications ships can be retrofitted with microwave technology to take advantage of broadband coastal communication up to 20 nautical miles from the coast. It makes it the ideal network infrastructure for port authorities, renewable energy, law enforcement, etc... For the past five years our company has contributed to the development of SeaFi an opensource approach to maritime wireless data communications based on consulting... Ships, buoy, wave energy converters equiped with SeaFi are part of what we call a Wireless Maritime Area Network.

On June 6th 2018, a scientific experiment has been conducted by SEA-Tech under control from a group reputable witnesses composed of maritime professionnals, researchers and reporters. The purpose of the experiment was to set a world record for the furthest maritime broadband transmission without satellite or cellular network using SeaFi wireless maritime communication system.

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Figure 1: Screen captures of the stations during the experiment shortly before reaching the furthest point of transmisslion

For several hours an Offshore Supply Vessel owned by Mainport, has set course south of Rochespoint lighthouse in Cork harbour (Ireland). Both the light house and the ship had been previously equipped with SeaFi (TM) transmission stations. SeaFi facilitates the creation of private networks in ports and coastal areas by establishing connection between lighthouses, maritime wind turbines, or offshore drilling platforms and vessels at sea. These networks are used to connect the ships and their crews, as well as the data collection buoys (weather, tides...) for example. SeaFI is a radio system on the frequency of 2.4 GigaHertz which works a little like Marconi's telegraph system, using coastal stations (connection points) and embarked stations at sea.

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Figure 2: Prof. Frederic Dias Tweet setting out a distance of 35 kilometers...

After concertation and analysing of the data produced by each station, the independent witnesses have come to the following conclusion. The statements from Professor Dias and an Irish Naval Service vessel patrolling in range of OSV Ocean Spey were the first accurate statements to be reported. Within a couple of minutes from the last point of transmission Prof Dias and Lt Crd Brett, commanding officer of LÉ James Joyce, statements have confirmed indepently from each other a distance of 19 nautical miles. Supporting evicence from all the other witnesses involved on share and at sea, have confirtmed the above statements.

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Figure 3: Lt Cdr Martin Brett email setting out a distance of 19.4 nautical miles...

For a better understanding we have reassembled the chain of events that eventually helped establishing the Furthest maritime broadband transmission without satellite or cellular network

  • 16:11hrs one last screen capture was made aboard OSV Ocean Spey
  • 16:14hrs the screenshot was inserted into the email together with another screenshot of Fastnet lighthouse Twitter station displaying a tweet posted at 15:56 (it says 15 mn ago) it confirms time...
  • 16:18hrs It was emailed to 30 correspondants around the world including 10 official witnesses at this point the ship moving at 9.6 knots was over 30 kilometres from Rochespoint already
  • 16:19hrs Rochespoint lighthouse SeaFi operator acknowledged reception, Prof Frederic Dias official witness in Rochespoint lighthouse started calculating the distance to OSV Ocean Spey based on speed...
  • 16:24hrs Both SeaFi operators agreed the connection was deteriorating fast and sent one last IP message (machine to machine) the ship was still connected to the lighthouse and thus to Internet
  • 16:31hrs Rochespoint issued one last traceroute test to verify if the ship station was still connected to the shore station
  • 16:32hrs SeaFi ship station (code name Gemini) had gone silent while OSV Ocean spey was echoed on INS vessel LÉ James Joyce patrolling south west of Ocean Spey position
  • 16:32hrs Prof Frederic Dias last calculations, in Rochespont lighthouse revealed that the ship was at a distance of 35 km from the lighthouse at this point in time.
  • 16:33hrs Prof Frederic Dias posts on Twitter the results of his calculation... 
  • 16:34hrs Lt Cdr Martin Brett emailed to acknowledge reception reporting a position of Lat 51 30.05N Long 008 03.70W at 19.4 nautical miles from Rochespoint (35.9 kilometres) - This email would be received later the same day by the operator as OSV Ocean Spey would re-enter the SeaFi Horizon network after she had completed her duties offshore.

This project was made possible by a group over fourty people who contributed from a few critical minutes to several weeks of difficult intensive work under the leadership of Arnaud Disant.
Sinead Furlong our coordinator, Roddy O’Connor and SeaFi coastal station operator Théophile Buyssens have spent countless hours in Rochespoint. Steve Hogan from Port of Cork has built a unique knowledge of SeaFi stations after working with SEA-Tech on MV Denis Murphy and MT Gerry O’Sullivan since 2013... Robin Therond, Raphael Paulello, Jean-Christophe Faivre who contributed as part of SEA-Tech internship program. CIL Lighthouse keeper James Power who have shared his experience since he first welcomed SEA-Tech to Rochespoint in 2012.

Mainport support was instrumental, Fleet Director Capt. Dermot Curtin, Superintendent Capt. Damien O’Sullivan and Capt. Dave Smith have been supporting the idea of a world record since inception. Vincent Gallagher technical manager in Mainport helped us retrofitting a SeaFi station on board Ocean Spey. Our witnesses at sea: Captain Mark Sloan and Chief Officer James Darwin, and the crew on board for their kind encouragements, a smile, an eye contact, a cup of coffee, a meal in the mess, it’s all part of a record.

We have also received sponsorship from The Commissioners of Irish Lights since 2013, Rochespoint has been used for SeaFi research. Rittal, Quark-Elec and Polar Navy has provided invaluable tools. Special thanks to Gene Antsilevich in Polar Navy for working with us over weekend from the US to support SEA-Tech.

Thanks to our official witnesses:

  • Prof Frederic Dias (Mathematician UCD - ENS) witnessing the operations in Rochespoint lighthouse, calculating distance in realtime between stations.
  • Lt Cdr Martin Brett (Commanding Officer LÉ James Joyce) confirming compatibility with satellite systems at sea and plotting last transmitting position.
  • Karle Grabe (RIC), Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science in CIT and Capt. Bill Kavanagh from NMCI inspecting SeaFi ship station on OSV Ocean Spey
  • Dr Sean McSweeney & Sean O’Callahan (CIT) inspecting Rochespoint lighthouse SeaFi coastal station.
  • Captain Mark Sloan and Chief Officer James Darwin senior officers of OSV Ocean Spey
  • Alexis De Sequeira teatching computer science in Bordeaux verifying email origination
  • Eoin English reporter from the Irish Examiner & Conor Purcell reporter from Cosmos
  • Dave McDonald Nova Broadband Internet Service Provider, confirming terrestrial connection to Internet.

World records are addicting… We will be improving this record soon hopefully!

Written by : SEA-Tech Evolution