Cobham SATCOM, a CIRM Member and a partner in the EU-funded EfficienSea2 project, has tested a new way to send and receive data at sea. The trials of the VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) took place aboard Scandlines’ hybrid ferries serving the Gedser (Denmark) to Rostock (Germany) route. The VDES was installed as part of the EfficienSea2 project, in which CIRM is also a partner.
VHF is a long-established method of voice communication from ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore. VDES exploits the same VHF band to provide data connectivity at sea. The changes to the VHF band will make it possible to maintain VHF voice communications as now but also to send broadband data, both terrestrial and satellite-based, for the first time.
This development aims to make it possible for ships to maintain a data connection at sea, thus eliminating the need to use satellite communications in coastal waters, resulting in lower costs. Using VHF radio channels for the easy and reliable exchange of data and information will increase the range of available land-based connectivity methods while not compromising on the global connectivity satellites will be able to provide.
VDES is expected to have a range of up to 50 kilometres from the nearest land-based equipment and, with the ever-increasing need for reliable data exchange between ship and shore, the advanced communication features of VDES will be an important addition to the implementation of e-navigation services and the search for increased efficiency in ports and VTS operations.
By Andy Winbow, CIRM’s EfficienSea2 Consultant