MOL to install Musk’s Starlink on more than 200 ships
Japanese shipping major Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has decided to install Starlink satellite communication service on 233 of its ocean-going vessels.
As informed, the vessels are managed by MOL Group ship management companies. The group plans to have about 140 vessels equipped with the system by the end of fiscal year 2023.
Starlink is a satellite communications service that uses multiple small satellites deployed in low orbit to provide high-speed, low-latency connectivity.
Earlirer on, MOL has conducted trials on several MOL-operated vessels. The trials confirmed a dramatic improvement in the communication environment, with up to a 50-fold increase in communication speed, enabling seafarers to make video calls with family members and watch videos, which were difficult in the past.
Considering the positive impact on seafarers’ wellbeing, MOL has decided to proceed with a full-scale introduction of the system on its managed ocean-going vessels. The trials will be carried out on cruise ships, ferries, and coastal RoRo vessels.
The shortage of seafarers in the shipping industry is becoming more serious, and as of January 2023, there will be a 10% shortage of seafarers compared to the number needed around the world
Against this backdrop, MOL sees an urgent need to improve the wellbeing of seafarers onboard its vessels.
Because the general onboard communication environment causes time lag and capacity limitations for private communication with family and friends, improvement of the onboard communication environment is a critical issue that must be addressed, according to MOL.
In light of this situation, MOL, along with Marlink AS, have prepared a white paper outlining the challenges of the current onboard communication environment, an overview of low-orbit satellite communications including Starlink, and expected applications in the future.
The Japanese shipowner plans to further promote the digital transformation (DX) of maritime operations by improving operational efficiency through real-time information sharing between vessels and land, and by providing full support from shore in the event of trouble onboard a vessel.
Recently, German shipping major Hapag-Lloyd and Danish shipping giant Maersk have also decided to install Starlink onboard its vessels.