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Satcoms, Sea and seven thousand miles - UK forces take on the Atlantic Challenge

26th Nov 2019

By: Nighat Mashhadi



It’s been a longstanding tradition of NSSLGlobal to sponsor and help intrepid explorers who push themselves to the limit for a good cause, and military organisations provide some of the bravest of all. From the Antarctic Gurkha and his solo journey to the South Pole, to Jeremy Tong’s attempts to scale Mt. Everest, our technologies and 24/7 services are available across the world to support trailblazers in their hour of need.

With that in mind, we’re proud to enable our latest adventurers with our sponsorship of both the British Army (Force Atlantic) and the Royal Navy (HMS Oardacious) teams taking on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Some of the toughest men will take on the harshest conditions that Mother Nature can throw at them!

THE CHALLENGE – 4 men in a boat

The challenge is the world’s toughest ocean-rowing race: a non-stop 3,000-mile voyage from the Canary Islands all the way up to Antigua in a boat just 7m long. The race takes place over approximately 40 days as teams from across the globe bid to be the first to the finish line.

It goes without saying that the challenges here, both mental and physical, are formidable. Teams will be rowing in two hours cycles of rowing/resting, day and night, with the weather of the freezing Atlantic in December posing a serious threat. Capsizing is common even in self-righting row boats, and teams must develop strategies to deal with seasickness, salt-sores, blisters, dehydration, sunburn, repetitive strain, fatigue… the list goes on.


Fortunately, both teams have great causes to help motivate them across the finish line. Not only will the race be a huge personal accomplishment, pushing their physical and mental capabilities to the limit, but both the Army and Navy will be raising money for charities close to their hearts.

HMS Oardacious – the team entered by the Royal Navy – will be raising money for the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity. Teammates Lt. Hugo Mitchell-Heggs, Lt. Callum Fraser, PO Dylan Woods and Leading Engineer Technician Matt Harvey all have previous experience in Army vs Navy competitions. They’re hard at work undergoing the intense physical training that it will take to complete what PO Woods described as a “monumental challenge, a life changing opportunity that I knew I would never get again.”

The team has a fundraising target of £100,000 and has already raised a magnificent £84,000! Funds raised will go to support sailors, marines and their families throughout their lives, with the RN&RMC contributing over £30,000,000 in grants to a huge network of charities that help support veterans and local communities.

The Army’s team, Force Atlantic, is also looking to raise £100,000 for ABF The Soldier’s Charity. Entering its 75th year of service, the charity has helped 70,000 people in 68 countries in the last year, aiding veterans and their immediate families. It’s not just a charitable venture, though – the journey will prove a serious test of character as the team pits itself against what team leader Lt. Col. Rich Hall considers “the ultimate test of physical and mental endurance.”

The team includes Private Kian Helm who, at just 18 years old, could become the third youngest person to have ever rowed an ocean – having barely left recruit training! Rowing alongside veterans with multiple combat tours under their belts, his inclusion is a testament to the opportunities for self-improvement and adventure that the Army and Harrogate Training College can provide.


NSSLGlobal will be providing both teams with the essential connectivity needed to the mission ahead. Both Army and Navy teams are working with Iridium services that deliver a global capability combined with the NSSLGlobal network providing a winning combination.

Staying connected 24/7 for the entire 40 days is essential. The Iridium services will enable both teams to share text and images with those supporting from the shore, and to remain in contact with their friends and families even during the cold Atlantic nights. It will also enable them to continue to help raise funds for their charitable causes by using social media and generating interest across all media.

Remaining in touch with technical and medical support is also a critical aspect. It gives the team members peace of mind that should an emergency arise they are not alone. They can get immediate help, hear the voice of loved ones during the darkest of nights and share the special moments of a glorious sunrise. NSSLGlobal will also be providing technical support for the teams throughout their challenge, with a dedicated support team ready be able to advise and act 24/7/365 to ensure that the mission can continue.

With the help of the Iridium 9555 and 9575 satphones and the Iridium Go, the Wi-Fi hotspot for voice and data and an invaluable resource for sending images, Force Atlantic and the HMS Oardacious are working hard to maximise their chances of winning a race that will push every team member to the limit in the name of charity. You can support both organisations by donating through the links below.

Good luck to both teams. We’ll be keeping in regular contact, so keep up with the teams via Twitter and LinkedIn!

Picture credit AJPMedia


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