HiSeasNet, the communications network providing full-period Internet access for the U.S. academic ocean research fleet, is an enabling technology that is changing the way oceanography is done in the 21st century. With the installation in March 2006 of a system on the research vessel (R/V) Seward Johnson and the planned installation on the R/V Marcus Langseth later this year, all but two of the Universities National Oceanographic Laboratories System (UNOLS) fleet of large/global and intermediate/ocean vessels will be equipped with HiSeasNet capability.

HiSeasNet is a full-service Internet Protocol (IP) satellite network utilizing Cisco technology. In addition to the familiar IP services—such as e-mail, telnet, ssh, rlogin, Web traffic, and ftp—HiSeasNet can move real-time audio and video traffic across the satellite links. Phone systems onboard research ships can be connected to their home institutions' phone exchanges. Video teleconferencing with the current 96 kilobits per second circuits supports compressed video frame rates at about 10 frames per second, allowing for effective conversations and demonstrations with ship-to-shore video.