Castor Marine has stepped in to save SeaVsat, which provides satellite internet access to offshore vessels and rigs, through an acquisition from administrators
Netherlands-headquartered SeaVsat was declared bankrupt on 23 November, leaving customers at sea in uncertainty about their connectivity and voice communications.
This comes as other satellite communications service providers, most notably Speedcast International, have struggled with debt and coronavirus pandemic-induced issues.
With the SeaVsat acquisition comes continuity of the internet and data services to vessel and rig owners. It also secures communications to hundreds of seafarers relying on this connectivity when they are unable to return home.
All SeaVsat airtime and connectivity contracts are now supported, said Castor Marine chief executive Ivo Veldkamp. “With this acquisition of contracts we now ensure all SeaVsat customers continuity of the services,” he said.
“The key benefit for the SeaVsat customers is that they now deal directly with a VSAT network operator instead of a reseller of VSAT services,” Mr Veldkamp added.
Castor is working 24/7 to migrate vessels involved in SeaVsat to its own VSAT network infrastructure. “This acquisition strengthens our position in the global maritime connectivity market and at the same time we ensure the welfare of people at sea,” said Mr Veldkamp.
Castor provides global VSAT over a network of C-band and Ku-band satellite coverage, covering most busy shipping routes and offshore operations.
In 2022, it will offer connectivity over low Earth orbit satellites using Telesat’s new constellation. Telesat has had test satellites in orbit since Q1 2018 and has secured funding to launch its LEO satellites.
Castor’s VSAT enables reliable communication, including sending critical data back to shore and providing onshore experts with real-time information about crucial operations.
Speedcast is preparing to exit from its US bankruptcy protection Chapter 11 proceedings. It has designated Centerbridge Partners as its sponsor and hopes to successfully emerge in Q1 2021.
Speedcast received conditional approval for its exit strategy and financial restructuring in November and since been actively soliciting votes from eligible creditors in advance of the 8 December 2020 voting deadline.
This solicitation process will continue to move forward as planned with the confirmation hearing scheduled for 17 December 2020, Speedcast said. Following court confirmation of the company’s plan of reorganisation, Speedcast will be able to emerge as soon as the final regulatory approvals are secured, and closing conditions are met.
Its plans involve a new US$500M equity investment from Centerbridge, a repayment of all the debtor in possession financing of US$285M and a permanent reduction of all of the US$634M senior secured debt of the company.
Speedcast current chair Stephe Wilks is confident this plan and equity commitment with Centerbridge maximises value for stakeholders. “This plan would enable Speedcast to emerge from chapter 11 in the most expeditious manner possible, with solid backing from a highly experienced private investment management firm to take the business to the next level,” said Mr Wilks.
In November, Speedcast sold a major satellite communications service package to Inmarsat as part of its exit from bankruptcy protection.
Through that arrangement, Inmarsat will be responsible for servicing all ships and vessels that were signed up by Speedcast for Fleet Xpress, FleetBroadband and Fleet One services.
Satellite communications and internet connectivity and applications will be discussed in depth during Riviera’s Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week 7-11 December - use this link to access more details and register for this event
It is also under discussion (with OSV digitalisation) within the Chat Room at Offshore Support Journal, Asia virtual conference - use this link to register