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CASE WORK - Enhanced Communications With Leased Lines
When the Royal Netherlands Navy needed 24/7 connectivity for a fast combat support ship, it turned to specialized Leasing Services from Stratos. Later, when the Navy required a new maritime messaging system, it adopted AmosConnect from Stratos. These solutions have substantially reduced costs and improved crew welfare. Today the Royal Netherlands Navy is pursuing Enhanced Leasing options for more of its vessels.

In 2005, the Koninklijke Marine (Royal Netherlands Navy) began planning a six-month military operation to take place near the Arabian Peninsula that required vessels to have 24/7 access to a coalition
forces network. The Navy planned to send a frigate and a fast combat support vessel. As ships do not always sail in close proximity to one another, each ship requires its own communications. The warship—like, all large Navy vessels came equipped with state-
of-the-art military SATCOM, but the smaller supply ship had only a slow dial-up Inmarsat connection to access the coalition network.

“In modern military operations there is a need to be online all the time,” explains Lieutenant-Commander Alex de Nijs, Senior Communication Information Systems Planner for the Royal Netherlands Navy headquarters in Den Helder. “But the cost of a 24/7 dial-up connection charged by the minute would have been an enormous amount of money. We needed a less expensive solution.”

About that time, Lt. Cdr. de Nijs came in contact with coalition personnel from Canada and Australia who told him they were using Leased Lines from Stratos. Stratos was the first Land Earth Station operator in the world to deploy specialized leasing services over the Inmarsat constellation. With a dedicated leased
line, a satellite channel with a fixed band-
width of 128 Kbps can be reserved 24
hours a day, 7 days a week at a greatly
reduced cost.

“We did an extensive investigation and found no other provider coming near the quality and prices Stratos offered,” recalls de Nijs. “The cost of one month of 24/7 connectivity using a leased line
equaled about one and a half days of dialing in.”

The Navy signed a six-month lease with Stratos for the operation, which occurred in 2006. At that time, the leased line on the combat support ship was used primarily for military business, rather than crew communications.

Upgrading Crew Welfare
Near the end of 2006, the Auxiliary Oil Replenishment Ship HNLMS Zuiderkruis was preparing to depart for a long tour of duty in the West Indies. The Commanding Officer had been CO of the supply ship
deployed in the Arabian operation.

“He had felt so good having the 24/7 leased line, he requested it again and obtained permission from our admiral,” says Lt. Cdr. de Nijs. “He also received some new equipment—very clever multiplexers that Stratos recommended—which made it possible to have four permanent telephone lines onboard the ship, as well as access to two networks: the Internet and the Navy’s intranet.”

Previously, with dial-up connections paid by the minute, the Navy had not allowed crew welfare calls at sea except in emergency situations. Not only was it costly, but also with only one phone onboard, it was impossible for official military calls to get through when crewmembers were making personal calls. Hence they could call only while in port—a frustrating limitation.

“When you’re away from home for six months, making a phone call every now and then can relieve some of the stress and discomfort,” says the Lietenant-Commander. “With the leased line and multiplexing, it was no longer a problem to use some of those extra lines for crew welfare. That was a big plus for them.

“These young people simply must be allowed to chat with the home front,” said Lieutenant-Commander Oscar van Lent, Commanding Officer of the HNLMS Zuiderkruis at the time. “With this technology from Stratos, welfare support for the crew has been upgraded to 21st century status.”

With greater access to the Internet, crew can also check web mail more often, send and receive pictures, and shop online. Even on vessels without leased lines or military SATCOM systems, the Royal Netherlands Navy has improved crew welfare and saved money by adopting AmosConnect from Stratos, an integrated maritime messaging system.

“Our internal ICT organization planned to stop delivering email service by January 2007, so we went to Stratos,” explains Lt. Cdr. de Nijs. “We had already used AmosConnect on a few vessels, but now we have rolled it out for the whole fleet. The quality of AmosConnect is a lot better because emails are compressed, so it takes less time for crew to download or send their emails. Every ship has an Inmarsat budget. The less time it takes, the lower the cost, and the less it costs, the more money they have to do other things. So it adds to crew welfare.”

According to Lt. Cdr. de Nijs, approximately 30 Navy vessels and ten mobile units of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps deployed worldwide are now equipped with AmosConnect from Stratos.

“We did an extensive investigation and found no other provider coming near the prices Stratos offered. The cost of one month of 24/7 connectivity using a leased line equaled about one and a half days of dialing in.”

Bandwidth Sharing Among Ships
Based on the success experienced by ships using dedicated, point-to-point leased lines, the Navy has also proposed to make funds available for Enhanced Leasing Services (ELS) from Stratos. ELS would enable bandwidth sharing among multiple vessels—oilers, mine hunters, other auxiliary ships—currently lacking military SATCOM.

“This is a very efficient means of getting better connectivity on those units for a very good price,” Lt. Cdr. de Nijs observes. “For the investment required to put enhanced leased line services on, say, a dozen ships, I couldn’t buy half a military SATCOM installation we have on one big ship.”

Cost, however, is only one part of the equation. “It’s not all about money. It’s also about quality and availability of service,” he concludes. “In a military operation, we need the confidence that service will be there 24/7—without problems. There may be no alternative. We’re getting that quality of service from Stratos. We consider them an important partner in getting our job done.”

FleetBroadband — The Future
In December of 2007, Stratos began a field trial with the Royal Netherlands Navy for FleetBroadband. The field trial established the Navy as the first organization to activate the FleetBroadband service. The three-month field trial is being conducted onboard the HNLMS Van Kinsbergen in Western European waters, including the Western Baltic.

“We believe the field trial of FleetBroadband from Stratos will provide the Navy with an excellent opportunity to evaluate the benefits of this new high-performance service in a wide variety of deep-water conditions,” said Lieutenant S.H. Veenstra, commanding officer of the Van Kinsbergen.

The main mission of the Royal Netherlands Navy (www.marine.nl) is the defense of Dutch territory and that of its allies, including the territory and waters of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. Hence, it has a permanent naval presence in the Caribbean/West Indies. The Royal Netherlands Navy also supports and assists civilian authorities in maintaining law and order, providing disaster relief and humanitarian aid both on a national as well as international scale. Den Helder in North Holland is home to the Navy’s principal naval base.