NSW Water Police trial satellite system

The NSW Water Police is trialling a satellite communications system on its vessel, Alert.

The trial of the Fleet F33 satellite system, along with trials by the US Coast Guard, US Navy and a Spanish vessel, is part of a global maritime field evaluation program being conducted by London-based satellite carrier Inmarsat.

NSW Water Police marine area commander, Detective Superintendant Terry Dalton, said the system is fitted to Alert, one of its long-range launches - a 22 metre vessel involved in solving marine crime, search and rescue and assisting government agencies. It has a range of 600 nautical miles.

Dalton said the trial has improved response times, enabling the vessel's occupants to use e-mail, SMS, Web-browsing, digital image transfer and constant, real-time weather updates.

He said the system enables access to crucial data in a user-friendly manner.

"When the trial period is completed (in six weeks), we will negotiate with Inmarsat, regarding full implementation. The overall investment will be about $20,000," Dalton said.

"Anything which improves our capability, allows us to work smarter, and which gives us the ability to send and receive crucial information quickly, is well worth the investment.

"When the vessel is out to sea and as an example involved in some sort of operational tasking, there is a real need for instant transfer of images or information."

Previously, Dalton said, the Alert vessel had a satellite phone in place.

He said 12 additional handheld satellite phones were purchased two months ago to improve communications.

If the trial is successful, the NSW Water Police will consult with its advanced technology branch recommending the Fleet F33 satellite system for use on the 22-metre Nemesis, which is based at Port Stephens.

Inmarsat's senior manager, maritime division, David Walker said integrator TC Communications installed the hardware and Xantac operates "the land-earth station in Perth".

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