One of the Iridium OpenPort™ beta test platforms was the Argentine navy vessel, ARA "Suboficial Castillo", an ocean-going fleet tug.
Tesacom, an Iridium Service Partner in South America, organized the beta test. The ship deployed from Ushuaia harbour in late November to conduct a variety of missions in support of the Antarctic community during the Austral summer. The ship’s itinerary extended as far south as the Brown Antarctic Base at 64 degrees 35.5 minutes south latitude–areas in which geostationary satellite coverage is unreliable due to the low elevation angles above the horizon. The deployment also unexpectedly included operations to support the rescue of passengers and crew from a cruise ship that ran aground near Cape Anna on the Antarctic Peninsula.
The ship’s commanding officer, Rodrigo Martin Arriegues, reported that the Iridium OpenPort unit performed well throughout the deployment, more than exceeding expectations. Arriegues said that, prior to Iridium, the ship’s crew were forced to rely on high-frequency radio for telephone calls, using a phone patch to the Public Switched Telephone Network through a naval radio station in Ushuaia. He believes Iridium OpenPort made a tremendous impact on crew morale on the ship, making it possible for the first time for crew members to call and e-mail loved ones at home, surf the Internet and participate in online social media.
Iridium OpenPort™ on an Argentine navy ship in Antarctic deployment