Specifically, the one-year trial scheme is using mi-fi technology, wireless routers that act as a mobile wi-fi hotspot, to provide seafarers with a strong and secure internet connection to contact families and friends.
The Port MiFi was launched, following seafarers disability on communicating with relatives and family, while also facing challenges with poor quality, costly, or non-existent onboard internet connections.
As MNWB deputy chief executive Sharon Coveney, explained
As we know, internet access is the number one request of seafarers to port-based seafarers' welfare providers. Most seafarers' centres now provide free internet access in their facilities; however, it's a sad reality that seafarers are not always able to leave their vessels, and as a consequence are often unable to contact their family and friends.
Therefore, the Port MiFi project aims to highlight the issues seafarers' face, by providing maritime welfare ship visitors the ability to bring the equipment to visiting vessels in UK ports.
The mi-fi units utilise 50GB sim cards that enable crew members to connect with family and friends, as well as accessing websites and apps such as Skype and FaceTime.
The pilot project costed £35,000 and resulted to 60 mi-fi units which have been shared between eight different welfare charities – the Mission to Seafarers, Apostleship of the Sea, Sailors’ Society, Seamen’s Christian Friend Society, Aberdeen Seafarers Centre, Liverpool Seafarers Centre, the Fishermen’s Mission and the Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest – who will deliver the services at ports across the UK.
According to Nautilus, the trial project will run until May 8, 2020 and will wait of feedback from the seafarers and ship welfare visitors will be gathered over the year to assess the impact of the service, the amount of data being used each month, the websites and apps being used, and the value of improved connectivity.
Apostleship of the Sea national director Martin Foley commented
This is an excellent MNWB project.
Mission to Seafarers regional director Revd Ijeoma Ajibade added that the new mi-fi devices will help seafarers be in touch with their families and it will enhance the onboard work of our chaplains and volunteer ship visitors.