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Case Study: Pacific Gas

Maritime

Pacific Gas (Hong Kong) Holdings Limited provides integrated supply chain services for a range of clean energy and its derivative by-products. Its ambitious growth since its launch in 2013 has seen the company rise from a specialised regional supplier to a global trading partner. With a modern fleet of nine very large gas carriers (VLGC) and five liquid ethylene gas (LEG) vessels, providing three million tonnes of shipping capacity annually, Pacific Gas is now the largest LEG ship owner in China. With offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Mumbai and soon to open in Houston, the company is growing from strength to strength and is actively planning expansion into other areas of clean energy shipping.

To support its fast track growth strategy, Pacific Gas is upgrading its entire satellite communications system across its existing fleet and future vessel commitments with Inmarsat’s industry leading Fleet Xpress service. Fleet Xpress will open a reliable 24/7 communication link between the vessel and shore-based teams with high-speed always-on connectivity from anywhere in the world. Pacific Gas is also integrating cyber security solution Fleet Secure Endpoint to meet International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 2021 cyber risk regulations and protect its fleet from cybercrime at sea.

Global connectivity and performance

“The reliability of Fleet Xpress has allowed us to scale our digital activities and complement our new ship management software that we installed to help resource planning on vessels,” says Captain Tao Yong, Vice President Fleet, Pacific Gas. “Internet access at sea is also vital for crew welfare and essential to attracting and retaining talented crew.”

Fleet Xpress replaces “a local service that had regional coverage and a metered plan,” he says. “Given our business growth in international markets our bandwidth needs changed; our need for seamless global mobility and reliability is being met through Inmarsat’s dual satellite constellation and unlimited back-up, guaranteed performance with high uptime, and round the clock management, monitoring and global support.”

Stable connections are vital for a company continuously monitoring its ships remotely using CCTV for security, for example.

“With real-time data exchange, vessels become an extension to our shore office and we base our operational efficiency and performance gains on continuous monitoring and real-time upgrades and assistance,” adds Capt. Tao Yong. Fleet Xpress is bringing “quicker turnaround in operational decisions as shore office and vessels are always connected”.

Cyber resilience at sea

“With our growing dependence on technology and providing open internet access we could be susceptible to cyberattacks, so we need more than a conventional anti-virus to protect our systems 24/7 and from the various kinds of evolving threats,” says Capt. Tao Yong.

Powered by ESET Endpoint Security, recognised for its high performance by industry authority Gartner Inc., Inmarsat’s Fleet Secure Endpoint solution continuously monitors ship systems for security breaches and will automatically identify and block any trace of infection. The solution will create a new line of defence across Pacific Gas’ fleet, protecting every point of vulnerability regardless of origin; whether from a crew laptop, USB or onboard sensor, giving the captain greater control and awareness over the vessel’s digital environment.

“As a modern ship owner we ensure that all our vessels are equipped with state-of the-art technology and security systems that complement Inmarsat’s global, secure and reliable connectivity,” says Capt. Tao Yong.

Where generic anti-virus software protects against spyware and phishing, Fleet Secure Endpoint includes a two-way firewall, web control, botnet protection, ransomware prevention, multi-engine scanning, network monitoring and asset inventory functions. It even includes its own health status alerting.

Compliance and regulation

Fleet Secure Endpoint will support Pacific Gas in complying with the IMO’s International Safety Management (ISM) code revisions due in force from 1 January 2021.

Peter Broadhurst, Senior Vice President of Safety and Security, Inmarsat comments: “In practice, ISM code revisions will mean that to comply ships must be able to demonstrate what assets, personnel and procedures are in place onboard and ashore to deal with cyber risk issues, what happens if systems are compromised and who has control. Compliance will depend on having the right risk management, infrastructure and procedures in place. Fleet Secure Endpoint offers owners a scanning and record-keeping tool to document the efforts made to follow guidelines developed by industry organisations such as BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping and Intermanager.” 

“The reliability of Fleet Xpress has allowed us to scale our digital activities and complement our new ship management software that we installed to help resource planning on vessels... Internet access at sea is also vital for crew welfare and essential to attracting and retaining talented crew.”

Captain Tao Yong, Vice President Fleet, Pacific Gas.