Satellite phone preference for sea

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by KP2013dramamama, Apr 17, 2011.

  1. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    Hubby and I would appreciate any information on satellite phones: pros/cons, type to have, where they can be purchased/rented. Is there a monthly/weekly fee besides purchasing/renting? Are there "dead" pockets in the world for SP usage? Is it worth it for last part of 2nd sea year...ds is planning on being a merchant mariner after graduation. Thanks:smile:
     
  2. kdbax

    kdbax Member

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    Hi Deb - So far Dan has done well with just purchasing phone cards. I have to admit to playing by ear - "Semper Gumby" as others have said here. Go with what DS thinks he needs.
     
  3. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    Hi KDBAX One of the issues is that he hasn't had port time and probably won't b/c of the LNG he is on is so huge. I doesn't get to port. No phone access. The internet is shut down in pirating areas. Who knows what type of ship he'll be on next. Probably a container or bulk carrier. Still I'd like to hear from knowledgeable people on this subject.
     
  4. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I only know of a very, very few people who have ever purchased a satellite phone.

    Do you really need phone contact with your child while they are sailing? I realize that email is shut off during the time they are in pirated waters and that is usually to lower the "electronic signature" of the ship. Guess what, if your son has a satellite phone and turns it on he is making the same connection that the ship does to send/receive email.

    As a 3/m or 3A/E your DS will likely only sail for 2-4mos at a time (unless they go out with MSC) and will have plenty of access to communication.

    In reality, if you "need" that immediate contact with your son then there are a few options out there for sat phones. They usually run similar to cell phones plans, but are exponentially more expensive...both for the equipment and the cost/minute.

    You might be better off having him get an "unlocked" GSM cell phone where he can then get a SIM card for the various countries he goes to. Would be quite a bit cheaper, but obviously only work while in port.
     
  5. kpmom2011

    kpmom2011 Member

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    As a side note, even if the cadets are not allowed to leave the ship, there are a number of "vendors" who are brought on the ship to sell things, including the sim cards. Also going with what KP2001 said......do you really need to talk to you child that badly? Heck I was happy with 1 or 2 emails a month :) Time to cut the strings guys! :beer1:
     
  6. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    "Back in the day", I would only call the folks once or twice a voyage, depending on where we were going. From the far east, it is a real time difference, and international operators were few and far between. Most Seamen's Clubs had them, though. I did write a few letters. For most voyages, however, we were only away a couple of months. I think that there are times I don't see my kids for that long, and we live in the same house.

    Once I was out after school, it wasn't much better. Running coastwise made keeping in touch a bit better, and there was always the marine operator for emergencies, but hardly secure. I remember calling my ex from Santo Domingo and Guayaquil via international operators, too.
     
  7. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    I sailed with a Chief Engineer that had an Iridium satellite phone. He paid around $1,100 for it used. He would periodically buy 500 prepaid minutes for around $600.. As far as I know he never had any problems with his connections. Personally, I never though it was worth the expense. I mean how much communication do you really need? Most of the time my ship was never more than 8 or 9 days from cell coverage or a landline phone and we did an email exchange at least twice a day. If anybody really needed to call I would let them use the ships sat phone. We would charge around $1.50 per minute and I would deduct the cost directly from the crew members pay voucher. The sat phone was located on the bridge near the GMDSS console so there wasn't a whole lot of privacy..

    Man, you’re dating yourself…
    [FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]cmakin and I started sailing way back in the ‘stone age’.. in the days of radio-telex and CW.. Back then there were no satellite or cell phones. If you wanted to make a phone call from a ship you had to go through the ‘marine operator’ via a public correspondence VHF channel.. It was VERY public and expensive.
     
  8. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    Thanks for all the info on the sat phone. I've gotten info via email too. We had no idea they cost so much. kp2011 It's not about string cutting...that was done along time ago. It's a family situational need.
     
  9. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Don't want the details but if the family situation is something like an illness/death/etc and you may need to get in contact ASAP then I would recommend making sure everyone knows the shipping company's contact info. They will be able to relay emergency messages for you if something comes up and in that case your son could use the ship's phone to call back.

    Obviously more of a one time use type of deal though.

    I can think of other issues where more frequent contact would be desired, but I don't think the cost would make sense in the end.
     
  10. deepsea

    deepsea Member

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    You might want to try one of these- lets you send texts and short emails. If you need to talk you can then use the ship sat phone.
     
  11. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    Yeah. Radio telegraph operators. Do ships even have a "Sparks" anymore? The last year I was with ABS, GMDSS was being implemented. I did a lot of SOLAS Safety Radio Certificate upgrades. It was kind of sad to see some of those big radio telegraph stations get torn out. I think I stated earlier, I kind of enjoy(ed) the isolation. I know it is sure a different world, communication wise, now. I spent about a week and a half offshore last year on a pipeline repair project. I had a direct line in the client office that they gave me, full internet and email access. Man, it was like I was still in the office. At least I could feign a bad connection. . . . .

    But it was an old construction barge. For that "Old School" flavor, I got to share my cabin with four others. The head and shower were through the galley and down one deck. Fun times. To think that some rating service gripes about the "dorms" at KP. . .

    What was that Sideband Station in Mobile? Man, I forget their call sign. Wait, WLO. That's it. When I worked with Crowley, we would also use our dispatchers on sideband to patch us through to a landline for emergencies, both familial and machinery. We had one in Jacksonville and another in San Juan.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
  12. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    Thanks everyone for all the info and the history lesson, the latter being one of the reasons why I love this forum so much. I see a book deal in the making for a few of you......why not?
     
  13. BOK

    BOK Member

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    Qualcomm makes a sat phone that sells in the $500 range. Took some time off work and sailed from FL to CA. We used the phone a few times. The service is expensive, but is was worth the peace of mind. We purchased a monthly plan which gives a few minutes. Some new sat phone providers are now making much more affordable ie $20 per month, but service is bad in some parts of the world.
     

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