Fern Communications Ltd reported that for the first time its FRX-1 radio repeater has undergone field trials conducted offshore Qatar. The outstanding performance of Fern Communications’ radio technology for Qatargas led the company to purchase FRX-1 radio repeater systems as part of its standard suite of radio communications equipment for use offshore.
Communications hindered by steel structure of condensate tanker
Recently, Qatargas contacted Fern Communications with an offshore communications problem they hoped the FRX-1 might help them to solve. It seemed that while loading condensate from the various natural gas condensate fixed point mooring (FPM) outlets offshore, it was necessary to position the bow of the tanker directly in front of the FPM. Unfortunately, the radio communications signals used while carrying out these manoeuvres was repeatedly attenuated by the steel structure of the tanker, which lies within the line of sight between the bridge of the vessel and the FPM, located at sea level. This was causing the radio signal to break down, making communications between the bridge and vessel crew haphazard at best. Because radio communications are essential to timely and accurate communication of the tanker’s position in relation to the FPM, it is extremely important that the radio signal remain strong.
Radio contact unbroken for first time
In an effort to provide uninterrupted radio communications between the bridge and the crew, Qatargas welcomed Fern Communications’ offer to test the effectiveness of the FRX-1 onboard a tanker while normal loading operations were being carried out.
During a four-day period, the Fern Communications team worked with members of the crew onboard a condensate tanker to demonstrate two FRX-1 units, both UHF and VHF. By positioning the FRX-1 unit at strategic points on the vessel, the radio signal was able to travel from one crew member’s radio around the steel structure to the receiving crew member’s radio. Throughout the entire period, the Qatargas crew experienced uninterrupted radio communications while loading operations took place.
“For the first time ever, we experienced uninterrupted radio communication, so we were extremely impressed. Before the trials, we were dubious, if only because we simply did not know that the technology existed that could really solve the problem,” said Rajkumar Koodali Tazathveetil with Qatargas. “The FRX-1 proved time and again that the radio signal could be reliably maintained, which convinced us to invest in units for our crews to use offshore. With the FRX-1, we are confident that positioning of our condensate tankers will be more precise and efficient, in addition to providing the crew with greater overall communication and safety onboard,” he added.
Radio repeaters become part of offshore communications equipment
Based on the positive performance of the FRX-1 radio repeater, Qatargas has already purchased units to serve as a standard component of its onboard communications equipment.
Qatargas is in active discussions with Fern Communications about adopting the system for use across all operations, both on and offshore. To build upon its success in Qatar, Fern Communications is in the process of appointing a distributor to serve the needs of operators and service companies throughout the country.