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Simulation advances lead to better vessel manoeuvring

Posted: August 23, 2011

lngtrainingSuppliers deliver new systems to colleges, academies and ship operators as guidelines on ship-to-ship transfers and vessel handling are set to increase demand for innovative bridge simulators

Colleges with 360 degree simulators are the main beneficiaries when ship managers follow guidance on training for vessel handling and ship-to-ship transfers (STS). The guidance regarding STS training comes from the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which has called for practical courses to help mitigate the safety and environmental risks arising from these operations.

Training centres have invested heavily in new simulators from suppliers including Kongsberg Maritime, Transas and Ari Simulators in response to the rising demand for training on modern bridge equipment. The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) in Cork claims to have the world’s largest bridge simulator suite, supplied by Kongsberg Maritime and utilised by GAC Training and Service Solutions (GTSS) for its STS courses.

According to Clive Hotham, who lectures for GTSS on its simulator-based STS operations course, training requirements for these activities will become mandatory in the future.

“Any situation in which ships are in close proximity to each other or moving at speed poses very real dangers, including vessel damage, injuries to the crew and environmental implications,” he says. “This makes ship-handling experience critical, especially in delicate operations such as mooring or STS. At the moment, specialist training for STS professionals is voluntary. But the MCA has started issuing guidance on the subject and it never seems long before guidance becomes law. I have no doubt that it will become mandatory that the master, at least, has been on some sort of training course.”

There are advantages with using 360 degree screens as they add a high level of reality to the training. “Simulator training enables a progression of challenging scenarios and such a flexible and varied range of conditions that we can clearly see if our trainees are operating in a safe manner,” explains Mr Hotham. “It also allows us to train them to recognise when they should make the decision to abort the operation because of poor weather or other problems.

“Once an exercise has begun, participants tend to forget it’s a simulation. This is particularly useful when we throw things at them that we hope would never happen, like engine breakdown or steering failure. They experience the full stress of the situation in a safe environment, allowing us to train them to react appropriately.”

NMCI’s simulator also has the capacity to link two bridges together, as in real world ship-handling scenarios. “We have eight or nine ships in our electronic tanker fleet, and with just a phone call we can obtain more from Kongsberg Maritime’s database,” adds Mr Hotham. “For clients running a lot of courses it’s even possible to train in simulations of their own real-world ships. In a simulator you can change the time, weather and seasons as you wish – summer to winter, day to night, sunny to thundery.”

In another deal, Kongsberg Maritime will supply eight Polaris ship’s bridge simulators to academy Vlaamse Dienst Voor Arbeidsbemiddeling en Beroepsopleiding (VDAB) in Zeebrugge, Belgium. The VDAB facilities will help train crew for local shipowners, including two of the world’s major dredging companies, Jan De Nul and DEME.

The Polaris simulators will allow students to train in a large number of sailing areas and over a broad range of disciplines including navigation, manoeuvring and ship handling, plus search and rescue operations. Starting in August, Kongsberg is due to deliver two Polaris DNV B bridges with 225 degree visual systems and six Polaris special task stations, each equipped with a 30 degree visual system. The installation will also include an instructor station and a secondary instructor or debriefing station.

Kongsberg Maritime recently helped shipowner Ezra Holdings open a suite of simulators in the EMAS Academy, the first of their kind in Singapore. The new facility includes a full-mission offshore vessel simulator with fore and aft bridges and a Kongsberg K-Poss dynamic positioning simulator. There are also two anchor handling simulators and one for training engineroom personnel.

Transas Marine will be delivering a full mission simulator to Kimberley TAFE Broome Maritime in Western Australia. The simulator will be used to train pilots and tug masters, who will operate in a new port development. The centre’s range of services will be expanded further through a research project. For this, Transas will develop rotor tug ship models and will integrate real drop-in panel and steering controls from Schottel for advanced training of masters and integration with pilots in live situations. The Transas simulator will have a number of replaceable panels including a set of controls for anchor handling vessel manoeuvring and all associated offshore training. The facility will have a configurable design for the main bridge console, so trainees will be able to use real steering controls from Sperry Marine and Raytheon Anschütz integrated bridges.

The system is based on a Navi-Trainer Professional 5000 ship handling simulator. The visualisation system will have the highest level of realism, featuring wind-generated sea state and variable swell models. There will be accurate vessel and wave interaction, full scene and environment reflection, and three dimensional bow waves and propeller wash. New grounding, synchronous rolling, broaching and other modelling features will be included.

Ari Simulation has supplied simulators for Indian shipowner Great Offshore for offshore vessel and crane handling. The facility can recreate the bridges found on anchor handlers and platform supply vessels operated by Great Offshore. It can be integrated with Poscon controls and dynamic positioning. Great Offshore will use the training centre to simulate ship handling, crane operations, heavy lifting, towing and navigation. The main simulator has nine plasma displays providing a 270 degree field of view. The aft bridge simulator has ship handling and engineering controls.

German company Safebridge has signed an agreement with Sperry Marine to provide online training for users of its VisionMaster FT ship navigation systems. Safebridge’s software allows students to train on all the watch modes found on the Sperry Marine bridge products supplied to the vessels they work on. It enables seafarers to access hands-on training at any time, so long as they have internet access. Users are taken step by step through a number of modules, replicating the use of the actual equipment, and are shown how to use each feature in various simulated scenarios.

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