Internet at Sea: The Backbone of Modern Marine Operations

Marine navigational officer is reporting by VHF
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Only 88% of seafarers have internet access at sea. Even those who do face limits and high costs. This lack of reliable internet affects more than personal calls or social media browsing. It impacts crucial marine operations. 

And while internet solutions for smaller, personal use are available, getting reliable internet access becomes a more significant challenge for enterprise-scale fleets, where larger ships and more people are involved.

This post will examine why dependable internet is essential at sea. We’ll also discuss specific challenges and how Galaxy Broadband solves them with advanced technology.

Key Takeaways

  • Connectivity at sea is not a luxury but necessary for crew well-being and effective maritime operations.
  • Issues like low bandwidth and unreliable connections pose operational inefficiencies and safety risks.
  • From cargo ships missing fuel-efficient routes to research vessels losing vital data, the stakes of poor connectivity are high.
  • Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite services offer potential solutions to many challenges, providing high-speed and reliable connectivity.
  • Modern connectivity solutions also include enhanced security features and are built to adapt to changing operational needs.
  • Galaxy Broadband provides reliable, tailored LEO solutions for marine operations

Modern Marine Operations and the Internet Factor

The stakes were high when LeeWay Marine, a Canadian maritime company, struggled with limited internet connectivity. It concerns crew morale, real-time data collection, and effective communication with land-based operations. 

They confronted a reality that many in the maritime industry face today: the internet is not a luxury at sea but a critical necessity.

Crew Morale and Family Connection

Having internet access influences not just comfort but also employment decisions for crew members. An overwhelming 92% of seafarers weigh internet availability when choosing their workplace. Even more telling, over 75% want to stay connected to the outside world at all times when at sea.

Operational Communication

Continuous contact with land-based facilities is not optional; it’s crucial. A dependable connection provides more than just a channel for messages. It supplies real-time navigation data, cargo tracking, and weather updates, which are fundamental for a ship’s safe and efficient operation.

The Need for Real-Time Data

Traditional methods like mailing hard drives for data review don’t cut it anymore. Many maritime tasks, like hydrographic surveys, require immediate data access. In a world where 95% of seafarers believe connectivity positively impacts onboard safety, real-time data becomes necessary.

A LeeWay Marine-owned boat at sea, representing the focus of the case study and the importance of high-speed connectivity in maritime operations.

LeeWay Marine Case Study: The Importance of High-Speed Connectivity in Maritime Operations

Addressing the Challenge of Internet Access

LeeWay Marine found itself at the intersection of two pressing challenges. 

First, the crew increasingly viewed high-speed internet as a standard employment feature. They wanted to FaceTime families, scroll through social media, and stay connected with the world. 

Second, clients, especially government organizations, wanted real-time access to data for specialized projects.

To tackle this, LeeWay Marine adopted a nuanced approach. They implemented a voucher system controlled by a Sophos firewall to allocate 40GB of internet bandwidth per crew member. This carefully managed the bridge between operational efficiency and crew satisfaction.

The Dual Role of Internet Connectivity

The voucher system worked, but it revealed a deep dependence on internet connectivity. During the initial phases of implementation, LeeWay worked closely with their crew to better understand how to manage their data usage. This reliance was not merely for leisure; it was also for work.

Autonomous Vehicles and Real-Time Data

LeeWay Marine’s approach to connectivity takes on additional significance when considering its advanced projects. 

They are working with global partners to tackle some of the most profound challenges related to autonomous systems. Real-time data and connectivity are the key enablers of this development.

Traditional data-sharing methods like mailing hard drives are no longer sufficient for special projects involving government organizations and private sector clients. These clients demand real-time access to information. 

LeeWay Marine has stepped up to this challenge. As Greg Veinott, VP of Business Operations & Programs, put it, “Having reliable, high-speed, low latency internet through Galaxy Broadband’s LEO satellite service allows us to be more competitive in the marketplace and ensures our clients can effectively manage their operations remotely.”

The Turnkey Solution: LEO Satellite through Galaxy Broadband

The voucher system was only part of the answer. LeeWay Marine soon realized they needed more than just a data allocation system; they needed fast and reliable internet connectivity to meet both the crew’s and the client’s needs. 

This led them to adopt OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite internet services, enabled by Galaxy Broadband. These services offered the speed, reliability, and low latency needed for personal communications and high-stakes data transmission.

Galaxy Broadband’s Strategy for Maritime Connectivity

Understanding the internet’s pivotal role in modern marine operations, Galaxy Broadband has designed a comprehensive strategy to address both the operational and personal connectivity needs at sea.

Integrated Solutions for Varied Needs

Our approach integrates OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Starlink satellite internet services with advanced marine antennas, such as the Peregrine by Kymeta. The intention is to deliver a dual-service model that ensures high-speed, low-latency connectivity while offering bandwidth allocation controls to balance crew welfare and operational tasks.

Enhanced Security and Reliability

Security at sea is paramount, mainly when dealing with sensitive real-time data for specialized projects. Our Total Mobile Enterprise Network (TMEN) integrates Static IPs and an enhanced security layer to ensure that confidential information remains protected while being transmitted.

Real-time Data for Advanced Projects

We understand that many modern marine tasks, such as hydrographic surveys and autonomous vehicle coordination, require immediate access to data. Our LEO satellite services provide the necessary speed and latency to support these advanced applications.

Future-Proofing the Fleet

Given the fast-paced evolution of maritime operations, we aim to keep our services agile and scalable. We are currently developing international virtual Points of Presence (POPs) with Equinix, which would provide a short-term virtual POP worldwide that marine fleets can access.

Partnership Strategy

To bolster our marine services, we are negotiating with global leaders like MacKay Marine for reselling agreements. This expands our reach and combines our specialized maritime internet solutions with their deep market understanding.

Galaxy One Bonding

The Galaxy One bonding technology allows for the merging of multiple internet connections, such as OneWeb and Starlink Low Earth Orbiting satellite connections, to deliver fast and reliable connectivity with speeds exceeding 200 Mbps. Moreover, it offers backup and redundancy, ensuring continuous and uninterrupted mission-critical communications at sea.

Challenges at Sea: The 24/7 Need for Internet in Modern Maritime Operations

We mentioned the crucial role of reliable internet connectivity in preserving crew morale and empowering critical technology-based solutions, but marine businesses face more challenges. These obstacles can have wide-ranging consequences, from operational inefficiency to safety risks.

Low Bandwidth

Low bandwidth is a persistent issue on the open sea. Essential tasks like monitoring fuel consumption, assessing performance, and receiving real-time weather updates demand a reliable, high-speed connection. 

Imagine a cargo ship in the Atlantic, relying on real-time data to optimize its fuel consumption. Low bandwidth could cause delays in data transmission, making the ship miss the optimal route and thus burn more fuel.

Traditional maritime networks often can’t meet these requirements. As digital tools become standard for enhancing operational efficiency, the gap between need and availability widens.


Navigating through remote regions exacerbates connectivity challenges. Vessels often contend with unstable connections, service lapses, and limited coverage. 

Consider a research vessel in the Arctic Circle, studying climate change effects. Losing connectivity in such remote locations can halt data uploads to onshore bases, potentially endangering long-term research goals. Similarly, cruise ships in exotic but remote locations can lose the ability to update passengers on real-time weather conditions, which poses a safety risk during sudden storms.

It’s not just about staying online; it’s about the operational and safety risks of losing a connection at a critical moment.

Complicated Setup

The hardware requirements for older maritime connectivity solutions are another hurdle. 

Oil rigs are a prime example of connectivity setups being a logistical burden. Traditional solutions involving cranes and other heavy machinery require multiple days to set up and calibrate. This complex setup takes away from the rig’s primary function—extracting oil—and costs the company valuable time and money.

Aerial view of oil tanker in the sea

Bridging the Connectivity Gap with Galaxy Broadband

As illustrated by LeeWay Marine’s experience, both crew morale and high-stakes data transmission depend on fast, dependable connectivity. Traditional maritime networks often fall short, causing low bandwidth, service unreliability, and cumbersome hardware setups.

Galaxy Broadband provides a robust answer to these challenges through its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite internet services, OneWeb and Starlink. These services offer the speed, reliability, and low latency crucial for marine operations—from cargo tracking to climate research.

By integrating advanced marine antennas like the Peregrine by Kymeta and implementing enhanced security measures through our Mobile Commercial Network (MCN), Galaxy Broadband ensures both operational efficiency and data security. Our flexible and scalable solutions are designed to meet the unique needs of various marine enterprises, whether an oil rig requiring real-time data or a private yacht looking for cost-effective connectivity options.

Don’t let connectivity issues hold your operations back. Contact Galaxy Broadband to discuss tailored solutions to keep you connected wherever the sea takes you.

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