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CASE STUDY - Antarctic Mission For Royal Navy
Earlier this year, international satellite communications solution provider, NSSL, sponsored a crack team of Royal Navy personnel from HMS Endurance, the Royal Navy’s Antarctic ice patrol ship, as they attempted to set a world record by kayaking around James Ross Island, off the coast of Antarctica. The island is 65km in length and is named after James Clark Ross, the explorer, who first sighted the island in 1843.

Six serving members of the Royal Navy and one civilian were the expedition members. Their aim was to kayak around the island for a total of 120 nautical miles, resting at night on the island itself and paddling by day.

The estimated time to complete the mission was about 8 days, all highly dependent upon the weather conditions. Icebergs and subfreezing temperatures as low as –30C were among the additional hazards that had to be faced. If the team were able to complete this mission, a world record would be theirs… no one previously had ever kayaked this far south, or around, James Ross Island. Plus, these stalwart Royal Navy adventurers were able to illustrate the amazing capabilities of BGAN mobile broadband terminals and Iridium handheld phones; their only means of communication once the mission was underway.

The team set off in February 2007, following many months of training, with individual GPS units and a BGAN kit to assist them in asserting their locations and communicating with the world. Scientific tests were also to be carried out, specifically on the south side of the island. Geological observations would offer data from fossils and rocks as to what life existed when Antarctica was a green paradise.

Circumnavigating James Ross Island in sea kayaks was an extremely ambitious plan. The team paddled as many as ten hours a day and also had to contend with icebergs capable of sinking or crushing their canoes, blinding hurricanes that made paddling impossible, and killer leopard seals.

Thanks to the BGAN and Iridium kit, however, these dangers were significantly reduced. The kit allowed the team to:
  • Check weather reports independently of HMS Endurance
  • Comfortably operate at a considerable distance from HMS Endurance and other inhabited areas
  • Call in for emergency help or assistance if anything went wrong
  • Update daily blogs with ease
  • Remain in contact with friends, family, sponsors and the media in the United Kingdom
According to Stephen Paris-Hunter, Fellow, Royal Geographical Society (FRGS), and the expedition leader with more than 22 expeditions under his belt, “The equipment supplied by NSSL was robust, reliable and performed brilliantly under extreme conditions and the pre-deployment training and support given by NSSL was absolutely essential. It allowed us to contact the outside world at times when it seemed we were the most isolated individuals on earth. Importantly, the kit was small and portable enough to fit into the confined space of a kayak.”

NSSL supplied the BGAN set, two Iridium phones and solar panels to recharge the batteries. According to Danielle Edwards, Product Marketing Manager, “This expedition really proves how satcoms have evolved to become a must-have necessity for adventurers who want to push the limits of human endeavor.”

NSSL was established in 1969 and is an independent service provider for satellite communications solutions as well as one of the top Inmarsat service providers worldwide. With a wide range of services and extensive experience of systems integration and application development, our focus is on the maritime, government, energy, media, finance and corporate sectors. We provide voice, data and broadband solutions anywhere in the world.

For additional information please visit http://www.satcom-solutions.com/