Naval Marine Broadband Communication

With water covering 71% of the world’s surface, steady increases in oceanic activities are driving a need for global maritime communications. Whether enabling crew welfare, optimising fishing yield or delivering IoT data, reliable broadband connectivity at sea is essential.

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SATCOM

Whether racing in oceans or cruising the coast, modern vessels rely on reliable satellite communications systems to stay connected to their crew and guests. Maritime VSAT, or naval satellite communication antennas, provide this connectivity to yachts and ships in harsh environments worldwide.

The Navy has relied on UHF and HF SatCom systems for decades, but today, emerging technologies are contributing massive improvements in capacity, resiliency, and bandwidth. High-bandwidth, low-earth-orbit satellite constellations offer new capabilities that the Navy can leverage. For example, radio-over-internet protocol (ROIP) converts radio transmissions into digital packets and transmits them over the internet. This technology makes it harder for an adversary to detect a target’s communications patterns.

For military applications, the Thales DiveSat terminal is designed for submarines and surface ships, while the SurfSat family of terminals operates in X and Ka band over DSCS/WGS or allied satellites and C band over commercial satellites. The terminals offer global operation with satellite auto tracking even in severe military environments, as well as dual satellite management and modem agnosticism for compatibility with electronic warfare and anti jamming capability.

Marines may encounter a non-permissive environment in remote islands in the future, which could require them to operate off the beaten track and away from friendly ports. NOTM provides beyond line of sight communication with commanders, and is a key capability in the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 objective of supporting joint all-domain command and control, or JADC.

Maritime VSAT offers cost-effective broadband access to satellite communications services for any vessel, allowing the operator to provide guests and passengers with entertainment and Internet service. These fully-integrated satcom connectivity solutions include a state of the art 3-axis stabilized antenna, RF subsystem and all interconnect cabling as well as professional installation services and satellite broadband access airtime. The intelligence gathered by these systems also provides a view of the vessel’s operating status and allows for more efficient troubleshooting.

VHF

VHF systems are used in naval marine communication for ship-to-ship communications and digital selective calling (DSC). They provide greater communication capabilities including the ability to issue distress calls and place urgent safety messages. They are also used to contact other vessels in the area via their unique identifier or MMSI.

VHF signals travel long distances in open spaces and have a very high-level of reliability. They are also less susceptible to interference from buildings and vegetation compared to frequencies of higher bands. These characteristics make them a vital tool for mariners.

A VHF signal works by alternating the polarity of electrical currents on conductors acting as antennae. This sends a wave of electric energy into space which can then be detected with another radio receiver. The frequency at which the polarity alternates determines the speed at which this electromagnetic wave travels. When it travels at a fast enough frequency, this signal can transmit sound and even Morse code.

Marines often rely too heavily on expensive and bulky broadband systems for command and control (C2) and other functions. This can leave them vulnerable if the systems go down or are compromised. MCDP-1, the Marine Corps’ doctrine on warfighting, admonishes staff to not become “overly dependent on sophisticated and complex equipment.”

In general, radio signals travel farther in open air than in enclosed spaces because they have a longer wavelength. VHF signals are not affected by the curvature of the earth’s horizon and can be received over vast seascapes. In addition to ship-to-ship and shore-to-ship communication, VHF can be used for navigational hazards warnings, weather reports, and emergency assistance.

In maritime VHF, channels are assigned to specific purposes and most are half-duplex, meaning that only one station can transmit at a time. Some frequencies are full duplex and can be used in both directions, although this is only possible when two stations can see each other over the ocean. VHF radios must monitor the international calling and distress channel of Ch 16 (156.8 MHz) or the equivalent channel in their country and region. This channel is monitored on all ocean-going vessels and inland shipping.

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