With ship traffic increasing around the world, it has become ever more important to improve safety and security and to safeguard our environment. When critical decisions have to be made quickly to protect or enhance any of these factors, good communication between all involved in the maritime chain is essential. The telecommunications structure for those at sea is far removed from the networks we can tap into on land. Instead, advanced communication systems enable ship-land, land-land and ship-ship contact, using satellite, and land-based radio and telephone infrastructure. The state-of-the-art voice and data communications technology available today mean that ship owners, operators and crew can stay in touch, wherever they are.
Good communications on board the ship also serve another important role; that of keeping the crew in touch with often distant friends and family. Internet connectively, part and parcel of channels of communication today, also allows access to email, weather and chart updates, position reporting, telemedicine and remote diagnostics, among other things. Seafarers also need to be able to communicate with other ships to receive and send urgent maritime safety information, and to send or receive distress alerts in an emergency to or from rescue coordination centres ashore and from nearby ships, wherever they are in the world.