The “artificial” experience provided by simulators is widely recognized as both effective and cost-efficient, says Captain Chris Hearn, Director of the Centre for Marine Simulation (CMS) at the Marine Institute of Memorial University, Canada.
CMS has the most comprehensive suite of maritime simulators in Canada and is expanding its capacity further with the addition of another bridge simulator – this one for a shuttle tanker – in partnership with industry clients. The simulator will be integrated with others at CMS to allow for multi-ship operations including ship-to-ship transfers between tankers.
CMS has a history of managing large technology research projects that improve its simulation capacity and is currently partnering in a project involving dynamic positioning technology for drilling operations in ice-covered waters. While other project partners focus on the technology and commercial aspects, CMS is working on more realistic ice simulation.
Improvements in technology continue to change how training is conducted, says Hearn. There’s a new emphasis on so-called digital twin technology, and CMS is collaborating with a diverse group of partners to develop a digital twin application that is primarily focused on how shore-based management centers for offshore oil and gas operations interact with offshore assets and offshore support vessels. The intent is to eventually have a digital twin of an offshore field, its assets and its subsea components that can be used on shore for education and training.
The Centre for Marine Training and Research at Georgian College, Canada is also adopting digital twin technology, including the latest class of ships built for the Great Lakes Seaway and a recent high-tech ferry, the Pelee Islander II. Centre Director Thomas Aulinger says, “Here the owner, Ontario Ferries, had the foresight to make a virtual twin of the vessel prior to construction in order to train the crew before the arrival of the vessel from the shipyard.”
The College offers over 30 marine courses in its new Marine Emergency Duties facility, simulation labs and also off site. Aulinger says developments in simulation technology and program development are constantly evolving, and the College is currently installing another simulator with the latest generation of Kongsberg K-Sim technology with dynamic positioning in combination with an existing engine room simulator.
Existing Wärtsilä bridges are also being upgraded with consoles reflecting the latest changes seen on ships. “An upgrade to 75-inch vertical monitors in a Class A bridge simulator scenario provides an unparalleled experience for students,” says Aulinger. “Here too, dynamic positioning capability has been integrated. Furthermore, the College invests in both hydrodynamic and area-modeling capabilities. As such, we are one of the few schools in North America able to provide clients with this service on both the Wärtsilä and Kongsberg systems.”
If possible, the College strives to incorporate hands-on or simulator exercises in courses which by IMO standards are otherwise highly theory-based. There are numerous examples where more simulated training – prior to increasing a junior employee’s responsibilities, for example – could be beneficial, says Aulinger.
“As advanced technologies are developed in industry, we are able to reflect these technologies in our simulation systems for training,” he explains. “These will include simulating such technologies as auto-docking and auto-locking while integrating hyper-accurate forces such as squat and piston effect within a lock.”
Sea stories are an integral part of Resolve Maritime Academy’s course offerings. The U.S.-based academy has recently reduced its curriculum to focus on firefighting. “Our Resolve team members have fought container ship and bulk fires,” says Joseph Farrell III, Director of Business Development. “For example, I was actually at a bulk ship fire about a year and a half ago off Africa, so we bring that to the academy as our edge.”
Farrell notes his own early-career training experience at another school: “Our firefighting training was at a house where we put out a hay fire, and that was enough to meet the core requirements for the Coast Guard. At Resolve, we do it very differently. We have a real Class A fire in a compartment that people have to come down and fight.” The 180-foot training prop is designed as a ship with three decks. “Students have to negotiate small alleys and ladder wells. “It’s very tight, and the fire hose can get stuck, so it’s like a real ship fire,” says Farrell.
Cruise lines are one sector taking particular advantage of the facility, often providing their own case studies and near-miss experiences to be incorporated into the training. Resolve is now planning the construction of a new fire trainer using the latest technology in fire props and able to provide both Class A and propane-generated fire training.
“The new fire trainer will allow us to provide realistic training beyond meeting regulatory requirements,” says Director Denise Jones. “Our trainer will accommodate cruise ship scenarios with a live grease fire, a balcony fire, entry into a fire space from above and from a long corridor, to name just a few.”
Earlier this year, STAR Center in the U.S. launched a new on-campus firefighting training simulator to expand required STCW and Military Sealift Command course offerings at the AMO Safety and Education Plans’ training center in Florida. The new simulator, designed by Fireblast Global, has received U.S. Coast Guard site approval and can accommodate the training needs of both AMO members and commercial mariners. The new fire field and simulator have the ability to replicate shipboard firefighting scenarios above and below decks. The helicopter props effectively simulate helicopter firefighting operations and deck fires.
Innovations & Upgrades
At MITAGS in the U.S., it’s common to have four or more simulators integrated into one exercise for port operation studies or advanced training.
Glen Paine, Executive Director, MMP MATES Program (MITAGS), says this is just one part of the innovation going on. Additionally, MITAGS has expanded its Maritime Apprenticeship Program to include unlimited tonnage licenses for oceans and inland waters. “These new programs are based off our highly successful Workboat Mate Program,” he says. “In addition to those seeking an entry-level opportunity to quickly advance, they are ideal for retired military and others looking to start a second career in the maritime industry. In addition, we are standing up a similar program for the engine department by year-end.”
MITAGS is also expanding its highly successful Navigation Skills Assessment Program (NSAP®) to most industry sectors. “We now offer watchkeeping assessment scenarios for management/operational levels for the deep sea, workboat, river, cruise ship and ferry sectors,” says Paine. “We also have assessment centers in the U.K., Croatia, India and the Philippines.”
Paine says mariners are coming from diverse backgrounds and seek training that meets their specific needs: “One of the great benefits of NSAP® is the training officer receives a detailed report on a mariner’s strengths and weaknesses. From the report, a custom training program can be developed with an objective methodology to measure change in performance after training. We see these types of detailed assessments being used in engineering and cargo operations as well.”
Maritime Professional Training (MPT) in the U.S. is upgrading projection technology for its main bridge simulator and introducing additional integration for engineering and navigation simulators. Courses are being harmonized with a number of overseas academies so that joint scenarios can be conducted.
“Our industry is evolving,” says COO Ted Morley, “and training providers have to evolve right along with it to maintain the viability and applicability of their training. Ships and vessels are increasingly complex with smaller crew sizes. If the training doesn’t keep pace, then efficiency and safety suffer.” MPT has been engaged in workshops and “town hall” presentations to introduce a wider demographic to the industry and attract new recruits. There are job opportunities out there at virtually all skill levels, he says.
MPT also conducts regulatory and non-regulatory leadership training. “Many companies want to include their own procedures and policies in these classes to ensure they are not only familiar to the crew but also that they are viable and effective,” adds Morley. Skill assessment and revalidation are major focus areas. “Ensuring a mariner has the knowledge and competence at the time of certification is only part of it. If those skills aren’t used, they are lost. It’s vital to look at recurring training and competence assessments to ensure ongoing capability.”
Svitzer has its own in-house simulators, including in the Bahamas, where ongoing training is provided to both staff and external clients. Denmark’s Force Technology is modeling regional ports and vessels from the company’s tug fleet. Svitzer says more and more clients, such as terminals, port authorities and pilots, are wanting to try out different towing techniques for their ports. The company has its own staff training policy and has also trained captains from Brazil, Peru and Canada and pilots from Equinor and Peru LNG at the Svitzer facility in Freeport.
Ralph Franjul, Svitzer’s Country Manager for the Bahamas, says the main advantage of conducting the training in-house is being able to train crews to the company’s high standards and ensure safe collaboration during operations among clients, pilots and Svitzer crews. “The flexibility of having our own simulator is also priceless,” he notes.
Synthetic rope manufacturer Samson has initiated a new program to help customers maximize line life and reduce risk. The new integrated technology and service solution, Icaria® for Mooring, is designed to facilitate the transition to OCIMF’s Mooring Equipment Guidelines, Fourth Edition.
One of the major components of Icaria, called “Classroom,” offers a set of virtual tools with consistently updated course content designed to allow for easy competency management of crews and certification programs for key specialist skills. It’s another example of the ongoing evolution of education and training in the maritime industry.
Damen Shipyards Group and VSTEP Simulation, a leading provider of training simulation technology, have joined forces to establish a laboratory to explore innovative new simulation solutions. The aim of the partnership is to develop software that will extend the capabilities of VSTEP’s existing NAUTIS Maritime Simulation platform into engineering applications and so open up new research and development possibilities for Damen’s numerous R&D programs.
The initial focus will be on ship design and engineering, where software will be developed that will allow naval architects and engineers to first model potential changes in a design and then view in virtual reality the impacts that these would have on other aspects of the vessel’s performance.
“Business units across the group require ever more simulations to mitigate the risks inherent in designing and commissioning,” says Marcel Cleijsen, team leader at Damen R&D. “Costs per simulated vessel are currently high due to dependency on suppliers, high tariffs and limited re-usability as ownership remains with suppliers. This project is an investment that will drastically lower the cost per simulation by standardizing the interface between components and making the completed simulations re-usable for future purposes.” Damen is well-known for its commitment to continually improving its designs based on industry feedback and the application of new technology, and this capability will be a valuable tool in supporting that process.
“With our focus on driving innovation within the industry, we can ensure that our combined solutions will complement each other,” added Steve Claes, technical director at VSTEP Simulation. “The industry demands better quality each year, which is something our maritime simulators can help accommodate. I believe this new project marks the beginning of a closer cooperation that will lead to a wealth of new data findings. These findings will contribute to the digitisation of the industry and pave the road to a new norm, with our simulator solutions in the lead.”
Damen and VSTEP Simulation already work together via Damen’s associate company 360-Control. There, NAUTIS Maritime Simulators are used to train crew in maneuvering tugs and OSVs in a range of scenarios in a highly lifelike but zero risk environment.
The new laboratory will also explore the potential to create ‘Digital Twins’. That is, virtual representations of existing vessel types that can then be manipulated to establish how they might perform in roles or conditions that they have yet to experience. That information will then be applied to optimizing the designs to allow them to operate effectively in new markets.
“Investing in a full bridge simulator is a step towards the Digital Twin goal,” adds Marcel, “and not only enhances Damen’s capability as a digital system integrator, but also enables us to present our findings to our internal and external clients and suppliers in an intuitive 3D graphical format.”
The laboratory will be based at Damen’s headquarters in Gorinchem and operational from February 2020.
In designing bridges, highway officials have in the past been most concerned about the traffic that will cross them. Now, Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) is also helping them think about the traffic crossing beneath them.
With increasingly realistic simulations available, SCI has worked with transportation offices in Kentucky, Iowa, West Virginia, Louisiana and elsewhere to determine bridge location and pier configuration and placement so as not to interfere with inland waterway navigation.
“What Seamen’s Church has allowed us to do is go in with two or three options,” said Keith Todd, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) district 1 office in Paducah, Ky. “They have pilots come in and go through two or three scenarios.”
Todd credited SCI for help in planning for a new Interstate 69 bridge over the Ohio River between Henderson, Ky., and Evansville, Ind., for the U.S. 60 bridge over the Green River in Spottsville, Ky., and, more recently, planning for the U.S. 60 bridge over the Cumberland River in Smithland, Ky. Although SCI’s simulator involvement in some cases was years ago, many of the bridges are now getting close to construction, Todd said. Bidding for construction on the Spottsville bridge should begin within the next month to two months, Todd said. The Smithland project should be let for bid in February. The I-69 project is still years away.
KYTC officials have seen such benefit from SCI’s simulations that they are already asking for assistance in the planning for another major bridge crossing. KYTC held public planning meetings in September for the construction of a new U.S. 51/U.S. 60/ U.S. 62 bridge connecting Wickliffe, Ky., to Cairo, Ill., over the Ohio River and near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
“It just provides a lot of information to the design staff as they move along the process for these new bridges,” Todd said, adding, “It may be 10 to 15 years before we get to the point of construction, but we’re getting lined up to do that early design work.”
Matthew Hyner, simulation and database manager for SCI’s Center for Maritime Education in Houston, Texas, explained more about how the simulations work.
The bridge’s engineering firm generally provides a few different potential bridge alignments that it believes are feasible, then has mariners test them in the simulated environment.
“The bridge engineer can receive real-time feedback from the mariners on what does and doesn’t work and why,” Hyner said. “We’re not only simulating how the towboat drives. We can bring in current data generated by mathematical algorithms that accurately predict how the towboat will handle in the water and through the bridge piers during different river stages.”
Other major bridges SCI has consulted on in recent years have included: the Interstate 74 bridge over the Mississippi River in Quad Cities, Ill.; East End and Downtown Ohio River bridge projects in Louisville, Ky.; potential placement of a new Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the Sunshine Bridge connecting Brook County, W.Va., and Jefferson County, Ohio; and the Iowa 9 bridge over the Mississippi River in Lansing, Iowa.
Simulation technology has improved in the past year or two to the point where the simulations also include river depth, the shape of the river bottom at the potential bridge site and the river currents at the site, Hyner said. Experienced pilots and captains generally run the simulations both at normal water levels and during simulated flood conditions.
“Identifying issues and crafting solutions in a simulator before spending millions and millions of dollars significantly reduces risk and is just a smart business practice,” Hyner said.
In the case of the Smithland bridge, Hyner said those simulations saved the contractor both time and money. The engineer’s initial thoughts on pier placement turned out not to work.
“We saw that on the second day, so—on the fly—they gave us some different plans with different placements, and we were able to put those in the simulator and create some new plans,” Hyner said. “In the end they decided we’ve got to put them on land.”
Todd said once officials could see the winding lower Cumberland River, near where it joins the Ohio, they understood the need for the piers to be placed on dry land during normal water conditions and could justify the expense of more expensive building methods to budget-conscious state legislators.
“It saved them eight months of design work,” Hyner said.
That was especially important since the bridge is such a major undertaking, Todd said. The $45 million, continuous-truss bridge is expected to take two to three years to build once construction begins, most likely in April. The new bridge is being built just downstream from the existing structure. The work should cause only minimal disruptions in river traffic, Todd said, adding that it will be comparable to when KYTC built the nearby U.S. 60 bridge over the Tennessee River in Ledbetter, Ky. That bridge opened in July 2013.
Hyner said the consulting work on the bridges ties in nicely with SCI’s mission of improving mariners’ lives by focusing on safety improvements. “The main reason why we’re doing these is a focus on mariners and making sure the waterways are safe and navigable,” he said.
The technology group Wärtsilä will supply two additional mini-bridge simulators to the Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy (NVNA), located in Varna, Bulgaria. The academy already operates a number of Wärtsilä simulators, developed and supplied by Transas. The order was placed in Q2 2019.
The state-of-the-art solution includes the hardware and software for two Wärtsilä NTPro bridge simulators. The scope also includes extending the functionality of an existing engine room simulator in order to upgrade it to meet the latest standards. When completed, the installation and upgrading of the simulators will provide a high level of advanced training for the academy’s students. By simulating actual operating conditions onboard ship, the students will be better prepared for their future at sea.
“Safety and efficiency at sea are key pillars in Wärtsilä’s Smart Marine approach. By providing the opportunity for maritime students to attain realistic, hands-on training with the latest navigational systems we are endorsing our commitment to this approach. We design our systems in close collaboration with training institutions around the world to provide the most comprehensive, flexible, and customised solutions possible,” says Shalbuz Talibov, Senior Commercial Project Manager at Wärtsilä.
The installation of this Wärtsilä training solution is timed to coincide with the start of the new academic year 2019/2020. NVNA is the oldest technical educational institution in Bulgaria. Today NVNA is a national institution for tertiary education, training and research in the field of national security and defense, maritime business and maritime technologies. The order with Wärtsilä was negotiated through Innovative Maritime Solutions Ltd who represent Wärtsilä locally.
€4m MaritimeMT seeks to make Malta a centre for excellence
A maritime education training centre spread over 2,300 square metres in Ħal Far was inaugurated on Friday, as Malta seeks to establish itself as a centre for maritime training in the Mediterranean.
The €4 million MaritimeMT training centre will offer various courses leading to maritime careers, both directly at sea as well as shore-based ones. The centre will also provide specialised training for the superyacht industry, including navigation, engineering and hospitality training.
It features two DNV-certified Full Mission Bridge Simulators manufactured by Dutch firm MARIN, a Liquefied Cargo Handling Simulator, a GMDSS Simulator and ECDIS lab.
The centre has been developed by the Malta Maritime Pilots Cooperative.
Sailors, captains and pilots may no longer have to travel to the UK or Singapore to get trained on ship simulators. They will be able to acquire this training at IIT-Madras, which will soon launch a 360-degree full bridge simulator.
The simulator will help train sailors in navigating Indian ports and waterways under different conditions, and also help investigate maritime accidents.
Unlike most such equipment, the simulator at IIT Madras will have the facility to customise data, to reflect advances in hydrodynamics and data collection, said K Murali, Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT-Madras, who is also the Nodal Officer of the National Technology Centre for Ports, Waterways and Coasts, which has set up the simulator.
The centre works to modernise Indian ports and fast-track waterways under the Centre’s Sagarmala project, an initiative for port-led infrastructure.
Murali said a full bridge ship simulator has real controls of a ship’s bridge and seamless visuals that displays port and the marine environments. It could be used to train people in navigating different kinds of ships through various environments, such as in the port basin, inland ports, sea ports, the deep seas and in rough weather.
Training on the simulator at IIT will cost just one-third of what ports incur on sending officials to the UK, Murali told BusinessLine. Typically, a port’s details are sent to the UK facility, where the official is trained for a particular manoeuvre – say, handling a very large crude carrier coming to the port for the first time.
The simulator, which has been set up in collaboration with the Delhi-based ARI International, will have details of all the major ports in the country. Apart from training mariners, this equipment can also help conduct studies on new ports and investigate maritime accidents. Data on accidents such as collisions and oil spills could be fed into the simulator, along with wind and ocean current information, to find out how an accident occurred.
Murali said the ship simulator modelling delivers new and innovative methods of teaching ship manoeuvring and port operations. It could be used to conduct studies such as navigation in open waters, coastal navigation, navigation in high traffic density situations, approaching the harbour, approaching the berth, mooring, berthing, and un-berthing, standard manoeuvring, passage planning, and execution and collision regulations.
The simulator is also suitable for navigation training in different environments, such as night time, poor visibility, heavy rains, strong winds, and severe sea states and strong currents, besides in areas of rapidly changing currents, said Murali.
Boon to Chennai port
Chennai Port Trust Chairman K Raveendran said that with the port’s entire model available, the simulator can be used repeatedly to understand what changes need to be made, before handling a ship or if the port is capable of handling a ship.
Last year, Chennai Port handled a Very Large Crude Carrier inside the port basin for the first time by any major port. Usually, due to the huge size, such ships are handled outside and cargo brought on barges. Before the ship was handled at the port, pilots were sent to a private company in Delhi to work on a simulator and check the feasibility of handling the VLCC inside the port basin. A few lakhs were spent on this. This can now be done at IIT Madras at a much cheaper cost, Raveendran added.
The technology group Wärtsilä has supplied advanced technology simulators providing realistic hands-on training at a new facility in Portugal. The training centre is developed and run by the Port Authority for the ports of Douro, Leixōes and Vano do Castelo (APDL), and was inaugurated in the end of July at a ceremony headed by Portugal’s Minister of the Sea, Ana Paula Vitorino. The order was placed in October 2018.
The centre is the country’s largest and most advanced maritime training facility. It features a Wärtsilä Full Mission Bridge (FMB) simulator with 360 degree projection, two tug simulators with 360 degree LCD, and one VTS simulator to allow full training, complex exercises, and certification for pilots, tug masters, merchant navy offices, and seafaring vessel crews. The simulation technology has been developed by Transas, a Wärtsilä company.
“Our ability to customise the configuration of the simulators to meet the precise requirements of APDL was a key contributor to the winning of this prestigious contract. The Full Mission Bridge simulator with 360 degree projection technology is the largest and most modern of its kind in Portugal. Without a doubt it is also on a par other state-of-the-art simulation solutions provided to well-known European training centres since it implements the most realistic simulation possible,” says Alex van Knotsenborg, Global Sales Director, Wärtsilä Transas.
“This is a state-of-the-art training centre with state-of-the-art simulators, and we thank Wärtsilä for their support throughout this project. The centre will promote both safety and operational efficiency at sea and on inland waterways. By being able to re-create actual operating conditions, the training doesn’t need to be carried out onboard, thus saving fuel and reducing pollution. The River Douro inland waterway has its five locks and corresponding approaches recreated in this simulator, as well as all the scenarios of Porto de Leixões and Viana do Castelo. This allows for intense and continuous training of ships’ crews, and for maintaining the skills of APDL pilots and parties,” says Comandante Rui Cunha, Director of Operations and Safety at APDL.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Minister Vitorino said: “The simulator management software allows the creation of scenarios for any port and for differing weather and sea conditions. It is especially relevant for preparing pilots and masters, and for studying manoeuvres in adverse conditions, crisis situations, and maritime rescue.”
The Wärtsilä scope includes the development of several 3D zones and a tug boat model. Wärtsilä has earlier provided APDL with a VTS system. Source: Wärtsilä
FORCE Technology’s ship bridge simulator product SimFlex is once again accredited as a full-mission Class A simulator according the DNV GL Standard: “DNVGL-ST-0033 Maritime simulator systems” and has obtained a Statement of Compliance.
With the Statement of Compliance in hand, it is possible for SimFlex training providers to obtain a product certificate through FORCE Technology, however, issued by DNV GL. The product certificate is also valid for five years.
The approach is that DNV GL uses the ‘as built’ documentation including signed site acceptance tests, which will be provided by us. Then, DNV GL conduct a review and issue a “Simulator Product Certificate” with appropriate class and notations for the training provider.
“The Simulator Product Certificate” is then handed over to the training provider through us. This certificate enables the training provider to prove STCW compliance to their national maritime administration. This approach is valid for both new and existing SimFlex training providers.
The SimFlex ship bridge simulator is renowned for its realism and has been under constant development for more than 30 years. Right from the very beginning, our focus has been on accurately modelling the hydro- and aerodynamic physical characteristics.
This is done by addressing all the forces acting on the vessel and then solving the equation of motions for the vessel. Each force component is a function of many variables, which each contributes to the total force exerted and the corresponding motion. This approach makes it easy to add or remove an effect.
The design is based on an eclectic approach where data is retrieved and combined from many sources. Herein lies the success and realism of the ship bridge simulator.
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has awarded a contract to Kongsberg Digital to deliver two new K-Sim Full Mission Bridge simulators.
The new equipment will expand training capabilities at the HMAS Watson Bridge Simulator Facility in Watsons Bay, Sydney.
RAN Command and Navigation head commander Chris Doherty said: “Our simulator training requirements continue to grow and Kongsberg has shown the flexibility to support our requirements, even in a compressed timeframe.
“This latest delivery reflects the depth of our partnership, as well as the importance of high-quality simulator training to the safety and operational performance of our people and fleet.”
The two simulators being procured for installation at Watsons Bay will be used for the ongoing training of RAN officers and sailors.
The training covers all levels of ship handling, navigation, warfare, and bridge management courses
Kongsberg Digital Sales vice-president Mark Stuart Treen said: “The navy continues to grow its navigation and engine room training capacity using K-Sim simulators, and we are committed to providing the technology and support that ensures trainees are always ready for their role on board new and existing ships.”
In August last year, the Australian Department of Defence announced more than A$80m ($57.50m) investment to expand and upgrade the RAN simulation trainer fleet.
The latest agreement follows Kongsberg’s previous contracts with RAN for the delivery of multiple shiphandling and engine room simulators for training facilities across the country.
In November last year, the company secured a contract to supply simulators for installation at a new training facility at HMAS Stirling in Perth.
Kongsberg said that the demand within the RAN’s training pipeline was triggered by the acquisition of new ship classes.
RAN is preparing to receive two Supply-class auxiliary oiler replenishment (AOR) vessels.
The service will also receive new Hunter-class anti-submarine frigates and Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels.
WASHINGTON — Constructing better training simulators for sailors on surface ships is one of the initiatives being undertaken by the Navy as it implements recommendations made after the deadly USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald collisions, Adm. William Moran, the vice chief of naval operations, said Tuesday.
Moran discussed the Navy’s efforts as a result of the 2017 collisions during a maritime security discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C.
Moran, who leads the Navy’s Readiness Reform Oversight Committee that oversees the implementation of 111 recommendations that came out of two reports after the McCain and Fitzgerald collisions, was nominated last week to be the next chief of naval operations, the Navy’s most senior officer.
During the discussion, Moran said he was encouraged by the progress of the implementation, and that part of the progress included building better training simulators in the Navy. He was “very disappointed” in the simulators that he saw used by the surface force compared to what he was used to as a naval aviator.
The aviation simulators that he used could train pilots under stressful conditions without risking an aircraft, but they did not exist for surface forces in areas where it was needed, Moran said. The Navy has looked at ways to modify and modernize some of the simulators.
One of the lessons learned from the 2017 collisions was poor communications and teamwork between the ship’s bridge and the combat information center, Moran said.
“So we bolted on [combat information center] simulation to the existing bridge simulators that are in the fleet, and that is helping the instructors teach basic communications but also some skills that are important that we reinforce,” he said. “Unfortunately though, we don’t have the capacity I think the fleet needs to do this as much as I think [commanding officers] would like to do it.”
The Navy’s training simulators for ships such as the littoral combat ships are “the best in the business,” Moran said. He wants that type of realistic simulator for every ship class or at least be able to reconfigure one to train a sailor for any ship that they might work aboard.
The Navy is constructing new buildings in San Diego, Calif., and Norfolk, Va., with multiple simulators that will allow sailors to undergo more training.
“That to me will make the biggest difference over time in terms of proficiency, experience, and the kinds of things that we need,” he said.
The simulators are not meant to replace experience aboard a ship at sea but to complement it, Moran said.
He said he hopes one day to see training simulators aboard ships in shipping containers with capabilities like the “holodeck” in the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series.
“That’s probably a vision a little too far but, I tell you, the way things are moving, I’m not so sure,” Moran said.