It’s been 15 years since the IP Company installed a revolutionary wireless communication system for that period in time on four patrol ships and the Joint Support Ship of the Dutch Navy. In 2007, The IP Company received a request from the Ministry of Defense whether it was possible to use software to allow a ship to sail reliably ‘unmanned’ with a small number of crew. ‘Unmanned’ stands for moving a ship with a minimum amount of staff. In the past it took at least 100 crew members to move a ship from A to B but the goal was to cut this number back by half.
Innovative Technology for the year 2007
Our proposal to our partner Rohde & Schwarz was to solve this issue with smartphones and a Wi-Fi network onboard the ship. The IP Company proposed to combine this network with a Platform Management System (PMS) and a Combat Management System (CMS). At the time, Rohde & Schwarz were hesitant at first because they thought the Ministry of Defense would not accept such a progressive proposal. After all, smartphones and Wi-Fi had never been installed on navy vessels before.
We were able at that time to show that a wireless network would be more secure than a fixed network. For the smartphones that were on the market at the time, we made the decision not to use Windows (in 2007 this was the standard), but to opt for Linux/Android operating system.
We were facing the problem that there were no ruggedized Android Smartphones in 2007. To solve this issue, we approached a big German manufacturer and we proposed to them to make an existing windows device suitable for Linux/Android.
To guarantee the security of the Wi-Fi network on the patrol vessel, we first performed several security tests with TNO (The Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research).
Installation on the ship
After managing to solve all the technical challenges, the first ship just came out of the shipyard. We started installing all the networks on board of the first ship.
Installing a Wi-Fi network on a ship of steel came with new challenges. We needed specialists who knew exactly what to do with the access points and the Wi-Fi-controller. It is of great importance to set up the Wi-Fi infrastructure in such a way that it will not interfere with other equipment and will not cause any transmission problems. Now, 15 years later we know exactly how to tackle all these challenges and have the best solutions.
The new improved software of The IP Company
In the past years we actively improved our existing software and also developed new software. We have developed various new mobile apps to help crew members performing their tasks more efficiently. We have also added a function for Track and Trace of crew members and assets to our software solution.
Our software runs on the latest state of the art safety standards; the systems run in a completely virtualized network environment and are duplicated for optimal redundancy.
Replacement Patrol Vessel Zr. Ms. Zeeland
In the world of technology, the year 2007 seems like another era. Our solutions from back then are still functioning excellent after 15 years but the time has come for new hard- and software that will come with new potential.
This summer we will provide a complete upgrade of the hard- and software on the Zr. Ms. Zeeland. The other ships will follow in 2023.