With many Filipino seafarers trying to reach friends and family back home in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, KVH has offered to make things a bit easier: Starting today and continuing for the duration of the emergency, all satellite phone calls to the Philippines from vessels using KVH’s mini-VSAT Broadband service will be free.
“Filipino seafarers represent more than 20% of the world’s mariners,” said Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH’s chief executive officer when he announced the free calls. “We are also offering free digital Filipino newspapers from our NewsLink group so that seafarers can keep abreast of the situation. Not knowing if loved ones are safe is extremely difficult in any emergency situation, and it is particularly wrenching for a seafarer who may be halfway around the world from home.”
KVH’s Crewtoo social media network, which is the largest social network specifically for seafarers, is also providing up-to-date information about relief efforts in the Philippines. A post on Crewtoo’s Facebook page indicated that 35% of Filipino seafarers may be affected by the typhoon.
To receive NewsLink’s Tagalog-language, digital daily newspaper free, Filipino seafarers are encouraged to send an e-mail to [email protected]
For mariners onboard vessels using KVH’s mini-VSAT Broadband service, the free Voice over IP (VoIP) calls to the Philippines will be available for the vessel’s operations-dedicated phones as well as for the vessel’s crew calling phones. In cases where crewmembers currently use a prepaid KVH calling card, the toll rate for calls to the Philippines will be zero. On many commercial vessels worldwide, crew members must pay for access to satellite Internet and phone services while at sea.
Many seafarer organizations are working to provide assistance in the Philippines as well as helping Filipino seafarers to cope with the devastation caused when Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on November 8. For example, the Seafarers’ Emergency Fund, administered by ISWAN, is providing funds for seafarer centers around the world to facilitate free phone calls and Wi-Fi for Filipino seafarers to call home from one of the centers on land. Online resources for seafarers seeking information include: