Inmarsat said in a statement on Friday the new initiatives include further collaboration with the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) and maritime charities.
Inmarsat says that as the pandemic has unfolded, it has worked closely with welfare ISWAN and the major maritime charities to ensure that seafarers stay connected “without the burden of additional financial anxiety”.
“Inmarsat is now offering crew access to ISWAN’s SeafarerHelp portal and live chat function via the company’s new onboard WiFi portal, Fleet Hotspot, as well as continuing to offer free voice phone calls to the service. It also continues to provide satellite phones to Port Chaplains in ports where a number of seafarers are stranded and have no access to the internet,” Inmarsat said.
“SeafarerHelp is ISWAN’s free, confidential, multilingual helpline, which offers support and assistance to seafarers and their families around the world. The helpline service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and seafarers can get in touch via a range of contact methods including Live Chat, e-mail and telephone.”
Roger Harris, ISWAN’s Executive Director, said: “We are delighted to be working with Inmarsat to bring our helpline service to even more seafarers during this crisis”.
“As you can imagine SeafarerHelp has been extremely busy over the last three months as crew face the impact of being stranded onboard and the loss of employment. Offering free access to SeafarerHelp on Fleet Hotspot will make it easier for crew on board these vessels to access support and assistance wherever they are in the world, day or night.”
As announced at the beginning of April, Inmarsat is also working with crew healthcare specialist Vikand and software platform provider FrontM to provide a free COVID-19 video call service with a trained health professional. The service is now live and available on over 150 vessels with a further 1,000-plus vessels in the pipeline.
“The new service ensures that users of Inmarsat’s high-speed Fleet Xpress service have 24/7 access to video call VIKAND’s expert staff for information to help navigate COVID-19 related, medical questions. By facilitating access to timely information for a vessel, client uncertainty is reduced, their decisions are more informed, and actions can be taken faster by clients to help mitigate and resolve risks,” Inmarsat said.
“Inmarsat continues to provide a voice call discount offer to its retail customers using FleetBroadband ChatCard voice services and to wholesale partners offering FleetBroadband voice calls under the legacy Crew Calling ‘SQT’ brand. In addition, it recently launched its ChatCard services for Fleet Xpress with an introductory discount that will be available until the end of July.”
“Inmarsat recognises the unprecedented situation facing seafarers and their need for certainty in communication, as the global maritime industry responds to the challenges of COVID-19,” said Ronald Spithout, President, Inmarsat Maritime.
“These new initiatives, together with those we have already launched, alleviate one of the core concerns crews face as they go about the business of keeping world trade moving day-in, day-out.”