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For the yachting professional on the Mediterranean

Crew comms

Article by ONBOARD Magazine

ADRIAN HICKS LOOKS AT THE INCREASED EFFICIENCY, SAFETY AND PRIVACY WHEN MAKING THE MOVE TO DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY FOR CREW COMMUNICATIONS AND RADIOS

With the summer season winding down and Monaco Yacht Show behind us, Adrian Hicks, director of Channel 28, discusses why digital crew communications should be top of next year’s upgrade list.

The trusty analogue radio has served us well, but today’s digital communications can make onboard life easier. Crew can now access text messaging, priority and private calling while enabling data transfer with the transmission of alarms and service calls, as well as other essential information, delivered to a single handset.

PROMOTE EFFICIENCY
Yacht radio licences allow for communication on a limited number of channels. Typically, one call would occupy one 25kHz channel. Digital technology allows a single 12.5KHz channel to carry two calls and further expansion allows a yacht to have four or six possible call slots. This means that deckhands, engineers and stewardesses can talk independently but with the ability to easily listen and call across disciplines. If the captain needs to interrupt calls to make a priority announcement this is also easily achieved.

In addition, a GPS location solution can be used for tender and jet ski tracking. Handsets are attached to the user’s life vest enabling the guest to communicate back to the yacht for support. This location service can also be applied as a guest shoreside marina or beach collection service which means crew can efficiently taxi guests back to the yacht.

Channel28 ONBOARD Magazine

Communication is most critical in high noise areas such as the Engine Room and enclosed mooring spaces. Digital noise cancelling headsets also allow efficient communication between crewmembers with the ability to communicate with the main radio system.

PROVIDE SAFETY
Efficiency is important, but providing safety is too. Typically, digital infrastructure includes steward call and task management, but it is also simple to engineer yacht-specific solutions such as bespoke interfaces to security systems and door intercoms. The radio can recall lighting states and disable the alarms allowing safe crew access to the yacht, turning the simple walkie-talkie into a toolkit.

Safety solutions can also be engineered for jet ski and tender GPS tracking. In the case of an emergency, the guest has a simple one-touch emergency button sending an alert to the crew handsets and beaconing the GPS location. Crew can then communicate with the guest and have an accurate location for a support boat to be sent.

In the case of a fire, crewmembers are put into a stressful situation and it is of paramount importance that communications are clear and focused, especially when guests are onboard. SOLAS regulations (MSC 91/22Add.1) state that firefighter radios should be ATEX-rated intrinsically safe, because using two-way radios in certain locations can present a potential safety hazard. Integrating radio communication into breathing apparatus simplifies deployments, and care should be taken to separate the fire team communications.

PROTECT PRIVACY
Many crews function perfectly well with a single analogue channel, so why would a yacht consider the move to digital? There are many perks but while digital communications have advanced, so has the need for privacy. Simply sitting in Monaco with a $40 scanner allows any would-be eavesdropper to monitor the schedule of the owner and crew in detail on most analogue systems. Going digital offers high levels of encryption as standard with the option of upgrading to further military grade security. This keeps your broadcast comms secure.

For more information on reliable crew communications:
Tel +44 (0)1306 257250
or visit www.channel28.co.uk

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