Irish Naval Service shores up it’s emergency response with AlertNet

The Irish Naval Service is Ireland’s principal seagoing agency, meeting the State’s maritime defence requirements from its base in Haulbowline Island in Co Cork.

The Challenge

The Irish Naval Service operates in a unique environment. In the tight quarters of a naval ship a fire can spread quickly. In this scenario, reaction time is critical.

The Irish Naval Service previously relied on manual fire announcements but this method of passing on accurate information, quickly, was subject to human stress, and could potentially lead to delays and misinformation. The Naval Service required a system they could rely on to react immediately to deliver the necessary, accurate, information to the right people.

The Response

As part of a competitive tender, Sigteq showcased its AlertNet platform to the Irish Naval Service. Importantly for the Naval Service, the AlertNet platform is not an off-the-shelf solution; it can be fully customised to meet even the most unique of requirements. “We needed a scalable and flexible solution and Sigteq have a proven track record of customisation. They have the expertise to integrate AlertNet with any existing system, manipulating legacy data and seamlessly bringing it into the AlertNet platform,” said the Officer in Charge of Communications Technical Section (OIC CTS).

AlertNet has completely modernised the Naval Service’s fire notification and response process. The new process is now fully automated and brings the Navy’s emergency response system in line with its modern, state-of-the-art fleet. “The AlertNet platform is a robust system that clearly and precisely alerts our team in the event of a fire on board. We have the reassurance that all information is accurate, which saves us valuable time and brings increased efficiency to our response team,” explained the OIC CTS.

The Solution

Sigteq’s AlertNet was initially installed on the LE Samuel Beckett, one of the Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessels. During a one-year trial period AlertNet streamlined the Naval Service’s emergency response system: the emergency response team (ERT) was equipped with radios that were capable of receiving text notifications, and all alerts were automatically forwarded via this radio channel.

The new system enabled the Navy to reduce its first responder time by 1 minute, vital seconds in a ship environment. In addition, all information received by the team included accurate location data enabling them to react more efficiently to any incident.

The Results

Following the year-long pilot, AlertNet was rolled out across the Navy’s entire fleet of nine ships and at its oil wharf. Not only has AlertNet automated and streamlined the Irish Navy’s emergency response, it has also enabled the Navy to reduce the number of crew members who need to remain on their ships at all times. Typically, one third of a ship’s crew, called Duty Watch, need to remain on the ship. However, automation of all alarms and notifications has allowed the Naval Service to reduce this number significantly.

Aside from emergency notifications, AlertNet has also been implemented to automate alarms in domestic spaces on board the Navy’s ships. With ships typically out at sea for long periods of time, fridges and freezers are critical machines. The AlertNet platform monitors all fridges and freezers sending out an alert if an issue is detected. This allows the ship’s crew to react quickly and make any necessary equipment adjustments or checks.

The Future

A future-proofed system was a key factor in the Naval Service’s decision to work with Sigteq. Over time the Navy has plans to connect its multiple fire alarms located around Cork Naval Base. All of its legacy fire alarms currently operate independently of each other, with different equipment makes, models and configurations. This means oversight can be a challenge. By linking all non-standard fire alarms and integrating all fire panels into the AlertNet system, the Navy can gain complete control over its fire alert and notification process across its base.

In addition, the Naval Service has plans to introduce a Man Overboard system where buttons located on the decks of its ships would be linked into the AlertNet system. Each button would be associated with a specific location on the ship, allowing for crew members to react quickly, at the right location to a man overboard situation.

“Working with Sigteq, we’ve been impressed by the can do attitude the team display. For each scenario we have discussed they have been quick to suggest a solution. And then they have the expertise to make it all work,” concluded the OIC CTS.