With gross tonnage measuring in at 403,342 GT and a lifting capacity of 48,000 tons, the Pioneering Spirit is by far world’s largest crane vessel. Its length measures 382 meters – same as the Empire State Building in height. Equipped with such immense lifting power, it is set to take on the world’s most challenging lifting projects out in the seas. Recently the UK government approved the decommissioning of Shell’s 24,000 ton oil rig known as the Brent Delta. Located 115 miles off the coast in the North Sea, the environment is guaranteed to be harsh and the waves to be rough. Shell considered cutting the platform into small manageable blocks but with the Pioneering Spirit, it is now possible to carry out the operation with a single lift, keeping topside refurbishment costs economical.
The Need For Connectivity
With such a monumental task, coordination with head office during the operation becomes absolutely critical. Holland, who is responsible for implementing the on-board network, researched on how they could make use of as many available connections for their sea-going operations as possible. Budget was not a concern for them; they could have relied solely on VSAT and spend tens of thousands of dollars. However, their goal was reliability and flexibility; they wanted to have a diversity of ways to maintain a connection. They came across Peplink and understood that our products are designed specifically for these situations.
A Peplink Balance 710 forms the core and prioritizes its WAN connections as follows: Point-to-point Wi-Fi, 2x LTE/3G via MAX HD2 IP67, VSAT, and finally tethered data from an Iridium satellite phone. To maximize WAN diversity, one MAX HD2 IP67 is placed on each side of the vessel and are kept at over 300 meters apart to maximize the signal reception. This setup is designed to maintain a continuous connection, and is also configured to prioritize the most affordable WAN connections.
When the vessel is at shore, it will be connected to point-to-point Wi-Fi. When this becomes unavailable, it will fail-over to cellular network connections provided by the MAX HD2 IP67s. Once it leaves shore coverage, cellular networks will take over until they are out of reach of the cellular towers. At which point, VSAT takes over, with the Iridium satellite phone as an additional failover option.
The Peplink Advantage
While the main reason for choosing Peplink is because of the ability to prioritize WAN connections and failover between them, there were other considerations at play. InControl 2 for example, offers up convenient cloud-based remote access and monitoring and powerful GPS tracking features. While not yet in use, the redundant SIM slot on the MAX HD2 is also another factor, offering the flexibility that Holland and team have been looking for. The fact that the MAX HD2 has an IP rating of 67 means that it is dust tight as well as being able to withstand submersion in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes – perfect for the harsh seas. Peplink’s agile and persistent support left an impression with Holland – making good products is just half the battle. Keeping customers reassured is an ongoing effort, one that we commit to every day.
Special thanks to Peplink Distributor FrontierBV’s technical expertise and for being well-stocked with Peplink devices. This was instrumental to meeting the project’s tight schedule.