LOOKING more like a large suitcase than a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, Maritime Safety Queensland has teamed up with Telstra, Insite Communications, the Port Welfare Committee and Gladstone Seafarers Centre, to trial new Wi-Fi units.

With the assistance of Gladstone Ports Corporation the Wi-Fi unit, which is the first of its kind in Queensland, will be utilised aboard vessels at anchorage.

Gladstone Seafarers Centre general manger Jess Mullhall said this vital service would enable seafarers onboard to have much needed communications with loved ones.

“Seafarers spend long periods of time at sea and away from home, this project which has been three years in the making will now allow them to call home once they reach us here in Gladstone,” Ms Mullhall said.

“The joint project will undergo a six-month trial… our hope is to see this inputted permanently.”

If the trial proves successful, it could be rolled out to other Queensland ports through not-for-profit Seafarer Centres.

GPC Acting CEO Craig Walker said their pilots and transfer crews are playing a central role in supporting the trial program.

“Our crews will assist with the drop-off of the Wi-Fi box to vessels out at anchorage,” Mr Walker said.

“Our Gladstone Marine Pilot Services crews are internationally recognised for their efficiency and safety.

“At GPC we are home to a professional and dedicated team of pilots who will be supporting the program,” he said.

“We have strong and trusting relationships with our customers and are pleased to be helping their crews at this crucial time when they are away from their families for so long.”