Irish firms to man Navy system

The Naval Service is getting a new satellite communications system which will be operated by Irish companies.

The announcement was made yesterday at the National Space Centre at Elfordstown, Midleton, Co Cork, by Defence Minister Simon Coveney, who said he was delighted to see Irish companies competing for and securing the contract.

For the past 10 years the Navy’s fleet of eight has been using satellite systems provided by overseas companies.

The task is now being taken over by the National Space Centre in Midleton and Voyager IP, a Wicklow-based firm specialising in marine telecoms solutions.

The new satellite equipment has been installed in all of the Navy’s ships, apart from the flagship LÉ Eithne which is currently stationed in the Mediterranean, assisting in search and rescue operations.

Flag officer commanding the Naval Service, Commodore Hugh Tully, said the service was delighted to team up with Irish providers for such a vital part of its infrastructure for seagoing communications.

National Space Centre chief executive Rory Fitzpatrick said the provision of satellite communications services to the Naval Service is an exciting contract.

“Our location as Europe’s most northerly and most westerly teleport on the Atlantic frontier provides a strategic advantage to our maritime nation. We have invested significantly in developing maritime surveillance and earth observation capacity at Elfordstown earthstation and look forward to working with the Irish Naval Service,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

Mark Elliott, managing director of Voyager IP, said satellite broadband services at sea are very different from those on land.

“It’s technically far more challenging as the user is always moving. We saw a gap in the market for a quality, full service marine communications provider and set up Voyager IP to meet that demand,” he said.

“We operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, looking after our clients worldwide.”

Voyager IP specialises in maritime satellite communications solutions and support for ‘super yachts’, cruise ships, commercial vessels, and offshore platforms globally.

The company is providing the satellite airtime, technical assistance for the onboard systems and a 24-hour helpdesk to the Navy.

Elfordstown entered service in 1984, commissioned by Telecom Éireann (now Eircom) in association with Eutelsat, as one of the first state-of-the-art global broadcast services in Europe.

It was taken over by the National Space Centre five years ago.


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