As maritime professionals develop solutions for meeting the requirements of MLC-2006 in such areas as crew welfare and training, the discussion often involves maritime satellite communications technology. An article in ShipManagement International magazine (“A Fresh View on Crew Entertainment?” Issue SMI 46) describes such challenges as providing Internet access to crew members while also managing all broadband use onboard.
1) Training: With broadband connectivity, vessels can meet the required Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping (referenced in MLC-2006) affordably and conveniently, as distance learning and web-based curricula allow any course to be delivered in any language to any vessel at any time. This is a big benefit for crew members, who can further their training while onboard – whether it is certification for another level of seamanship or vessel-specific training.
2) Communications, News, and Entertainment: MLC-2006 recommends providing phone, email, and Internet access, preferably at no cost, or reasonable cost, to the seafarer. Broadband connectivity provided by a vessel’s SATCOM system is the gateway for offering Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) voice services, Internet café, email, text messaging, and many other forms of social media. In addition, MLC-2006 recommends giving mariners access to movies, television, radio, news, and books, preferably at no cost to the seafarer. Currently, many crew members bring their personal copies of movie DVDs onboard for viewing, but this practice is illegal due to copyright laws requiring commercially licensed content to be used on commercial vessels. MLC-2006 provides the first regulations with oversight and enforcement of these international copyright laws.
3) Telemedicine: MLC-2006 recommends that vessels be prepared for telemedicine consultations with shoreside doctors to treat onboard injuries or medical problems. Telemedicine consultations can be conducted via computer or dedicated videoconference equipment, and broadband connectivity is essential.