Shipping companies and seafarers can benefit from free news, training, communications and vessel insight from a growing number of service providers
New, free services are being announced each week as the shipping industry works together to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Seafarers are facing months of isolation and more shipping company staff are working from home, putting pressure on decision-making, workloads and mental health.
To counter this, service providers have brought in free services to reduce mental stress, counter training issues and deliver more information to the industry.
GNS has introduced its Voyager Fleet Insight (VFI) web service for free during the Covid-19 pandemic to deliver information supporting shipping companies.
VFI Plus enables remote monitoring and management of ships from shore. It provides data to remote-working teams as Covid-19 creates operational challenges that require better access to information. It has live vessel positioning on C-Map charts and overlays of current and forecast weather conditions. It displays Marpol zones and all nearby vessels within a user-defined distance.
Users can also view detailed seaborne and port-related risk information from Risk Intelligence and can opt for Admiralty Vector Chart Service online.
Inmarsat has introduced additional call time for users of its ChatCard voice services to allow crew to call home free of charge.
It is also working with International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) and the main maritime charities to provide communications to support mariners’ mental health.
Port-IT is helping seafarers’ information requirements with a free news service via email covering local and international coronavirus updates, sending global and country-specific updates on the Covid-19 coronavirus situation to ships twice daily.
This is for “onboard crews that find themselves missing critical updates on the world’s condition” Port-IT said. These updates will be available to vessels regardless of the email solution used on board.
Port-IT said these updates will remain free during the duration of the coronavirus situation “with no strings attached once the pandemic has ended”.
OneOcean introduced a free-to-view feature on its Regs4ships software in February that enables managers to monitor regulations and guidance concerning the growing coronavirus epidemic.
This provides reports of Covid-19 cases by date and flag state and a comprehensive list of new coronavirus-related regulations and guidance.
In mid-March, Videotel and Seagull introduced a new e-learning program advising mariners on methods of preventing coronavirus infection and procedures to follow if they do fall victim to this highly contagious virus.
In addition, Kongsberg Maritime is providing e-learning for remote training on its onboard systems. This is combined with its K-Cat competence assessment tool to ensure seafarers can update their training on K-Bridge navigation equipment, K-Chief automation and K-Pos dynamic positioning.
This uses online training tools and virtual classroom courses delivered using cloud-based virtual machines and software to students with a computer.