The proliferation of increasingly sophisticated and realistic maritime simulation facilities is taking the market by storm, with investment globally to train new and old mariners alike to exacting new standards.
“Simulation technology has continued on a more or less steadily upward trajectory over the last ten years,” said Sam Pecota, Director of Simulation, California Maritime Academy, “The clarity and fidelity of our current full mission simulators is significantly superior to that which was possible at the turn of the century. But this improvement is mainly a matter of degree, not a total revolution. That sort of paradigm shift in simulation training may by coming soon however, with the introduction of wearable devices like Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens.”
Pecota is not alone, as there has been a palpable advancement and investment in next-generation simulation technology globally.
“Twenty years ago simulation was an extremely limited, extremely complex, and extremely expensive training tool,” said Capt. Ted Morley, Chief Operations Officer of Maritime Professional Training. (MPT) “Advances in technology have sparked tremendous improvement in the quality of simulation and in what simulation can do. MPT installed the first privately owned simulation facility in 2002, in the ensuing years we have had an ongoing upgrade system that has allowed our systems to grow and stay at the cutting edge. The biggest changes we see now is integration of systems, the ability of today’s simulators to take very complex real-world systems and rather than simulate them, today’s simulators can generate and feed the necessary data to stimulate that equipment.”
While certainly not the only game in town, Transas has been a driver in delivering latest simulation technologies, integrated in increasingly complex models to deliver as real of a feel as a mariner can get without actually getting wet.
“From our perspective there has been an increase in simulation activity in the last months, and in fact a general upward trend in demand for some time now,” said Neil Bennett, Sales, Transas Americas, Inc. “ I think there is an ever widening acceptance of the value of simulation as part of maritime training.”
Pecota agrees. “Simulation training is no longer a luxury in the maritime education and training business: It is vital that through carefully controlled and effective simulation training maritime students develop ‘bridge-mindedness’ to a very high degree well before being turned loose to operate multimillion dollar vessels capable of causing catastrophic environmental disasters after simple navigational or collision avoidance errors. The same applies to engineering and cargo handling simulation.”
The Drivers for Growth
Drivers for the growth in simulation depends on a number of factors, as the simulation market mirrors the diversity of maritime itself: blue water, brown water, offshore, engine room and every specialty in between, if it is run on a commercial ship or boat it can be simulated.
“The underlying driver is of course International maritime regulations, STCW, which in turn results in new national requirements, as well as associated standards,” said Bennett from Transas. “But the technological capabilities of simulators, as well as the equipment used aboard ships, is clearly advancing on a steeper curve than the regulation. This has allowed industry to advance its own applications of simulation, beyond STCW, to meet specific needs. The offshore industry is a good example, where independent standards, such as the Nautical Institute Dynamic Positioning Operator Training Scheme, which incorporates simulator training extensively, has become an internationally recognized standard of high quality, and has responded to the increasing demand for DPOs worldwide.”
Up until the middle of last year the Offshore market was still running hot, and capacity to train a new generation of offshore workers was proceeding at a brisk pace. Fast forward six months and the global price for oil is still stuck in neutral, but at least one who invested to this end doesn’t feel the money spent was for naught. “Certainly the recent (but now diminished) boom in the offshore sector was a big factor,” in recent investments made in simulation training, explained Dave Boldt of Resolve Marine Group in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.. “But Dynamic Positiioning (DP) is becoming nearly ubiquitous in several sectors of the market. Including ferries, tankers, small cargo, cruise and even yachts, and we all know the offshore sector will rebound which is a steady source of training requirements. We are confident in the long term outlook offshore. Even if this slow down is a relatively long one there is nothing to suggest that the industry will not rebound strongly in time.”
MPT’s Capt. Morley agrees: “Offshore Industry Training is one of five key market divisions at MPT. The recent downturn in the price of oil, and the geo-political issues surrounding it, we believe will be short-term.”
Maritime Professional Training (MPT) has been particularly active in expanding, investing $5m in the expansion of four bustling facilities. According to Capt. Morley, the jewel of the expansion is a new 25,000 sq. ft. facility, with more than 15,000 sq. ft. dedicated to simulation. In addition to the new building, an additional 9,000 sq. ft. of existing space will be remodeled with new classrooms, meeting areas and a conference center.
“All four of our Broward County campuses will receive significant technology upgrades allowing for live streaming and cloud-based data sharing between them,” said Capt. Morley.
The technical specs on the new equipment housed in the new facilities is equally impressive, with a total of four full mission Class A simulators; three navigational bridge simulators and one Engine Control Room simulator; 30 partial task desk top simulator stations; upgrades to the DP lab and ECDIS labs; as well as new equipment for the Radar/ARPA lab.
In total, Morley said the enhancements represent an approximate 50% increase in seats and facility size. Total number of seats available will exceed 350 in all classrooms, not including the conference center or meeting hall.
On the West Coast, Cal Maritime and its partners have invested more than $1 million in new simulation equipment and upgrades to existing facilities, according to Pecota.
He said an L3 engine simulator was installed in the Engineering Building Power Lab, a simulator that was donated by Chevron Corporation. For its part Cal Maritime provided a newly constructed space within the larger Power Lab to house the L3 simulator, and professional training courses using the new facility are due to begin in April 2015.
“Chevron needed a good location for its preferred type of engine room simulator (L3), one that can be linked to our Transas full mission bridge simulators to provide simultaneous deck/engine integrated training for its employees,” said Pecota. “Cal Maritime will use the new simulator in its undergraduate engineering courses when not being used by Chevron.”
Cal Maritime is unique in another sense in that its Training Ship Golden Bear features a simulator, and the Navigation Laboratory’s full mission and part task simulators are receiving a $50,000 upgrade to the Instructor Operation Station. “Cal Maritime’s Golden Bear is the only maritime academy training vessel in the U.S. with advanced simulation facilities that greatly enhance the cruise experience for cadet students,” said Pecota. The upgrade includes expanded space for the instructor’s operating room and server room, and additional workstations and monitors to allow for better simultaneous operation of the full mission bridge and classroom part-task simulators.
Resolve Marine Group in Fort Lauderdale has also invested recently in its simulation facilities, to the tune of approximately $1 million, according to Boldt. RMG has added an additional 7,000 sq. ft. to include new classrooms, DP Class, office space, flex-use tug/DP bridges and relocation of the full mission bridge. In addition, there is a new two story, four compartment wet trainer next to the Fire Trainer, the Gray Manatee, in Port Everglades. Attracting business from the offshore sector was a driver for the most recent expansion, and to that end the new facilities include a DP Class featuring 8 x DP 1 or 4 x DP2 desk top trainers. The system and simulation is Transas NTPro and DP units are MT. The Tug/DP Bridges will also be Transas NTPro and allow Resolve to create courses specific for the harbor and escort tug markets, ship handling, pilotage, Boldt explained.
While offshore training was a driver for recent expansion, Boldt believes that there is a pervasive movement within much of maritime that is going to make simulation training a cornerstone for many maritime companies. “There is a trend in the entire industry toward understanding the value and importance of simulator training,” said Boldt. “It is not the end all be all, and it is not a replacement for hands on training, but it is absolutely proven to be a vital piece of the puzzle when training and assessing competencies that are difficult or impractical to practice at sea.”
To this end, Boldt looks to the top of Resolve Marine Group as the ultimate driver of the company’s recent simulation training expansion. “Joe Farrell is an innovator and a visionary,” said Boldt. “He has a great sense of the industry and a great belief in his team to put his vision into practice. Certainly we look at traditional (market) indicators and read Maritime Reporter religiously but Joe is the driver.”
Late last year Morton S. Bouchard, III helped to officially open The Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc. Tug & Barge Simulation Center on the campus of the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College. In explaining the decision to invest in the simulator, Bouchard said, “The way it came about was really simple: we always had a simulator in New York Harbor, and the company that was operating that simulator moved it down to Houston. So we partnered with SUNY Maritime to build a first-class simulator on campus that would not only benefit cadets, but would benefit our employees. We’re going to do our training here with our captains and mates.”
The Bouchard Transportation Company, Inc. Tug and Barge Simulation Center is the latest in Kongsberg Polaris Bridge simulation technology, utilizing an industry-inspired bridge console arrangement, with the latest hydrodynamic ship models and exercise areas. The Center offers full mission bridge simulators, instruction stations and a de-briefing area where instructors can discuss topics including navigation, seamanship and bridge resource management skills required in the operation of tugs and barges. Training on this state-of-the-art Center ensures that students enrolled at the College, and professional mariners alike, are well-educated and trained in a controlled environment. Attention will be given to the complexities of operating tugs and barges, ranging in size from 3,000 to 12,000 horsepower, which carry all types of commodities. The Center creates new opportunities and better prepares future and current professionals for successful careers in the maritime industry. While the simulation center was funded by Bouchard, features replica simulation models of the Bouchard fleet and will serve to train and maintain Bouchard seamen, the center is a critical resource for SUNY Maritime cadets and is open for business industry companies and professionals.
Putting simulation training in perspective, Bouchard said, “Training and education is 200% more today. You cannot be profitable in this industry unless you are safe. You cannot be safe unless you train, but that’s not only in the simulator, it’s every day on these vessels. The captains in our company are held to the highest standards to be safe, and that is the only way that you can be profitable.”
Brown Water Training and Collision Reconstruction Taken to a New Level
When a new or expanded port is planned on an inland waterway, how do you assure the civil marine engineers and ship operators of feasibility and operability while at the same time allaying the fears of local residents that their quality of life and local environment will not be significantly spoiled? “Simple,” says Paul Morter, Business Manager for BMT ARGOSS’s brown water version of their tried and tested ship simulator REMBRANDT. “You take the ships and the port to them. This is exactly what we did towards the end of 2014. We delivered customer workshops and a public consultation for two planned overnight rest ports on the Rhine transport route between Germany and the Netherlands.”
It was BMT ARGOSS inland waterways specialist Johannes ‘Hans’ Veldman who identified a potential market for brown water simulation through his work experience with the Dutch inland waterway networks.
Veldman has brown water in the blood, growing up afloat on the inland waterways of the Netherlands and beyond and has a broad knowledge of the European inland waterway network, the locks and other structures found on inland waterways. For example, he had significant involvement in the development of the hydraulic lock leveling system for the new canal between the rivers Seine in France and Scheldt in the Netherlands.
Another project attributable to him was the initiation of the completed Joint Industry Project “Improved Push-Barge Connection System” that resulted in an improved connection system for inland push-barges on inland vessels. “The BMT Group is very proactive in supporting well thought out ideas that require some development”, explains Morter, himself a blue water Master Mariner. He added, “We received the full backing, including financial assistance, from the Group’s innovation board to make the necessary adjustments to the software for this market.”
REMBRANDT has been in existence for over twenty years, starting as basic, two dimensional software. Now a fully DNV type approved navigation and maneuvering simulator with high quality graphics and all the attributes of a modern day bridge simulator, the brown water version of the simulator has allowed BMT ARGOSS to extend this capability into the inland waterways market. For this particular market, portability is as important as capability, so not only was the software specifically adapted to the needs of brown water, but also the bridge infrastructure had to be fully portable and representative of the inland vessel bridge.
“Developing a brown water version of the simulator was not without its challenges”, continues Morter, “Hans’s experience was invaluable in this respect in ensuring that we got it right.” Inland vessel bridge design is much more standardized than ocean going vessels so the layout of the wheelhouse was critical to the skippers’ immersion. However, there are some vessel controls that are not normally encountered on deep sea ships. Some of these systems required a significant amount of development to ensure correct operation and behavior of models. This required close cooperation between software specialists and BMT ARGOSS’s in house team of experienced naval architects.
Recently, an existing harbor near Lobith-Tuindorp and the river flood plain Beijenwaard near Lobith-Spijk have been selected for the development of 70 berths to provide overnight layover facilities to satisfy the rest requirements for inland vessel crews. An important design aspect for these facilities is the safety for the vessels arriving at and departing from the harbors. Simulation is not only essential for establishing safety, but has also been shown to be a very good way of involving the public in the developments. As many as 80 different simulations were conducted, covering the whole range of expected conditions, using licensed inland waterway pilots to carry out the simulations. The result of the simulations was an assessment of the planned development along with a proposal for alternatives to provide safe berths.
The regional authority responsible for the planned development took the decision to involve the nearby local community as part of the design process. Using the simulators portability a demonstration was set up in the local town hall enabling visitors to gain a good understanding of the studies involved in the development process to ensure the port designs are safe for navigation.
As well as providing traditional port and canal development simulations, REMBRANDT-INLAND can be used to accurately reconstruct specific incidents involving collisions in order to identify the root cause and any lessons that can be learned. The simulation uses available shipboard data combined with high fidelity models, to produce meaningful three-dimensional simulations. Voice, radar and position data sets are automatically synchronized together with environmental data and navigational circumstances, to present a complete and seamless reconstruction of events for in-depth analysis. The resulting incident reconstruction can be used to identify what happened not only for litigation purposes, but to help improve safety. Once the root cause is determined the first steps towards future prevention can be implemented. This knowledge and also the liaison with the client can produce a range of “what if” scenarios that can be thoroughly investigated and evaluated to produce specific training needs, valuable lessons learned and possible review of operational policies and procedures.
REMBRANDT-INLAND is a highly accurate, capable and flexible alternative to Full Mission Bridge (FMB) marine simulators, delivering equivalent functionality at a lower price point. REMBRANDT allows the user to load any port, river or canal and utilizes high fidelity vessel models that include over 750 parameters, ensuring that the user experiences identical vessel to vessel interaction, vessel to bank interaction, squat and shallow water effects as the real vessel would in the same conditions. REMBRANDT-INLAND is currently being used as part of BMT ARGOSS’s consultancy offering and will be available to purchase later in 2015.
Cruden is unveiling its new high speed boat simulator at the 7th HSBO Forum (Lisbon, May 4-6).
Using detailed modelling and motion cueing techniques, as well as professional image generation developed in the automotive and motorsport industries (including Formula 1TM), the simulator is designed to set a new training standard for offshore, coastguard, naval, search and rescue, and security and control applications. The simulator was developed with data gathered from the Dutch military on its fast interceptor vessels and Florida powerboat specialists.
“We are excited to announce our entry into the marine simulation market. We believe our high speed boat simulator is one of the first to combine real boat and associated hardware with professional wave and boat dynamics models and image generation for power boat training scenarios,” says Maarten van Donselaar, CEO of Cruden.
“While scenario-based simulator training is commonplace in the marine sector, this tends to be focused on larger craft. We are offering a new solution for training in critical safety and boat handling situations where motion, forces and dynamic feedback play an important part. We want to bring renowned Cruden technology to improve safety and reduce costs to new applications.”
- 6-DOF 640 motion system
- Range of hulls available. (Cruden will bring an open cockpit demonstrator to the HSBO Forum.)
- Shock-mitigating seat by Ullman Dynamics
- SIMRAD NSS7 and NSS12 EVO2 Chartplotter/multifunction displays
- Customers will be able to integrate their own hardware, if required
- Display either with on- or off-board projection systems
- Service and maintenance packages.
“We look forward to presenting the high speed boat simulator to the HSBO Forum community in May. The reaction from the organisers and our partners has been very positive so far,” concludes Maarten van Donselaar.
Ho Chi Minh City, March 18th 2015 – A DNV Class A certified NAUTIS Full Mission Bridge Simulator was delivered and installed by VSTEP at the Ho Chi Minh City Maritime Vocational College in Vietnam.
The simulator delivered is a NAUTIS Class A Full Mission Bridge simulator with a 270° field of view through projection. A NAUTIS Instructor Station was also installed. The Maritime Vocational College is a well-known higher education institution in Ho Chi Minh City. The simulator will be used for training and education of maritime students at the vocational college and will be implemented in the existing courses curriculum.
To allow students maximum familiarisation with the Vietnamese waters, three additional environments were added to the extensive environments library. The new environments include the approach of Ho Chi Minh City and its harbour, as well as the approach and harbours of Hai Phong and Da Nang. All environments were recreated in detail for use in the simulator.
Robin Lim, Business Development Manager, VSTEP Asia Pacific: "With the integration of the Vietnamese environments, the NAUTIS DNV Class A simulator will provide the Ho Chi Minch Maritime students with a realistic educational tool to prepare themselves for a successful seafarers career. The cooperation with our Vietnamese partner Tecotec and the Maritime Vocational College has been excellent and we look forward to continue this relationship in the future."
VSTEP will be showcasing its simulator solutions at the INMEX Vietnam 2015 from 18-20 March 2015. Come visit us at stand G03 at the Dutch Pavilion.
Indonesian Maritime School purchases DNV certified class A Full Mission Bridge Simulator to enhance its training curriculum.
VSTEP will deliver and install a NAUTIS DNV Class A Full Mission Bridge Simulator at the Maritime Academy of Cirebon in Indonesia. The new simulator will be used to provide certified maritime training and education in accordance with the latest international standards.
The Full Mission Bridge simulator is compliant with the Class A DNV Standards for Certification No. 2.14 for Maritime Simulator Systems and IMO model courses 1.22 and 1.32 and provides a 240° horizontal field of view. Following installation of the simulator, the academy instructors will receive extensive simulator instructor and maintenance training from VSTEP.
Istanbul University has received a multipurpose simulator complex from Transas Marine. The package includes a full mission navigational simulator NTPRO 5000 and a four-workplace multifunction simulator class that will enable training in shiphandling, radio-communication and liquid cargo handling operations.
According to Transas, the project’s requirement to house a 270-degree visualization bridge in a space-constraint room presented a challenge. Taking into account the university’s plans to move to new facilities in the future, Transas provided a configurable and cost-effective solution for easy dismantling and reassembly.
Buffalo Computer Graphics (BCG) Inc. has delivered a series of simulation products to Maritime Training International (MTI), in Jacksonville, Fla. MTI contacted BCG earlier this year and opened discussions to add simulation capabilities to its existing inventory of maritime training resources.
MTI shipped three laptops to Buffalo for BCG engineers to install and configure two of the laptops with Raytheon’s NSC ECDIS software and ARPA/Radar software in addition to BCG’s Virtual Steering Stand (VSS) software; the third computer was configured with BCG’s Instructor software (the Enhanced Graphical User Interface). This software package will enable MTI to teach ECDIS courses as well as various radar courses.
After the laptops were delivered to MTI, Captain Nick Andrew (MTI’s president and owner) installed the student stations into two custom made enclosures that will house the computers and two monitors.
Currently, MTI has two student stations with plans to upgrade to a third station in 2015.
Buffalo Computer Graphics (BCG) has reported that it has upgraded the technology used by two of its existing customers for radar training and simulation.
The River School in Memphis, Tennessee, received laptops preloaded with BCG’s simulation software. They will be used alongside BCG’s PCS-250 Portable Radar Stimulator and four Furuno Radars for portable training at various locations around the country.
Elsewhere, Columbia Pacific Maritime in Portland, Oregon, has expanded its radar simulation capabilities by adding a Tabletop Steering Console and BCG’s Virtual Steering Software.
BCG says the upgrade will provide students with the ability to control their own ship’s heading and speed as well as providing Auto Pilot capability and visual indicators of the vessel’s operating parameters.
Kongsberg Maritime has unveiled its latest generation ship’s bridge simulator, K-Sim Navigation, which meets the requirements of the most demanding navigation training for merchant, offshore and naval vessels. Designed for the future of advanced and integrated simulation training, K-Sim Navigation is based on a new cutting-edge technology platform enabling more realistic training scenarios and enhanced user benefits for both instructors and students.
K-Sim Navigation features an advanced physical engine and state-of-the-art hydrodynamic modelling, allowing vessels, objects and equipment to behave and interact as in real life. To enhance the realism further, a sophisticated new visual system is included, bringing vessels and objects in all possible weather conditions to life.
The result of these improvements is, according to Terje Heierstad, Global Product Manager, Kongsberg Maritime Simulation: “A fully immersive and optimum quality simulation experience. It’s a step change in maritime simulation. The shipping sector doesn’t stand still, and neither do we. Using our 40 years of simulation experience, it was our goal to take ship’s bridge simulation to the next level.”
K-Sim Navigation has been developed with the user experience firmly in focus. In addition to the realistic environment for students, instructors benefit from an award winning* instructor system designed to facilitate ease of use. It features an intuitive and modern educational tool utilising a modified ECDIS chart as a starting point with drag & drop function for creating exercises. The instructor system also includes automatic recording and an advanced assessment system for ensuring optimal training and feedback standards.
“Instructors are perhaps the key link in the training value chain, so we wanted to give them the ability to create the most advanced training scenarios, with the utmost efficiency and ease,” explains Heierstad. “Flexibility is also crucial, giving instructors the capacity to adjust exercise parameters before and during simulations to provide the best quality training for every individual student.”
K-Sim Navigation’s flexibility extends to hardware, with a fully scalable range of options available – from a PC based desktop system, through to a full mission bridge simulator. The system, built on the same core technology platform as the market leading K-Sim Offshore simulator, can easily be integrated with other Kongsberg Maritime simulators (including crane, offshore, engine, cargo, ballast and DP) to enable a comprehensive range of training scenarios.
Already approved to DNV GL Class-A standards, K-Sim Navigation allows maritime schools and academies to extend their available portfolio of courses, while in addition, providing them with the controlled environment necessary for undertaking valuable research projects.
“We believe that the new functionality and realism we have developed for K-Sim Navigation is an essential building block for enhancing sea skills and thus providing safe, secure and reliable vessel handling. Which, at the end of the day, is what maritime simulation is all about,” concludes Heierstad.
The maritime wing of the Australian Army purchased and installed a VSTEP simulator classroom for landing craft operations and navigation training at its Townsville base in Queensland.
According to VSTEP, the simulator purchase was made following an enquiry from the Australian Defense Force (ADF) and Bohemia Interactive Simulations, a global software company providing simulation training solutions for military and civilian organizations. As a developer of certified maritime simulators, VSTEP was approached by the ADF to supply an advanced maritime simulator classroom for the Australian Army at the Townsville base.
The maritime simulator classroom delivered by VSTEP includes 12 NAUTIS Desktop Trainers and 2 NAUTIS Instructor Stations. The simulators use the NAUTIS Naval Task Force software module, a training module specifically designed to meet the training requirements of the military. NAUTIS Naval Task Force includes tactical communications, landing craft operations, replenishment at sea and antipiracy training.
To maximize familiarization during training, VSTEP has also modeled and integrated the Townsville base and surrounding waterways into the NAUTIS simulators.
The Australian Army contract is the latest in a row of military simulator contracts for VSTEP. Earlier this year, VSTEP won the contract to provide maritime simulators to the Mexican Navy.