Seamen and their employers are welcoming a new training facility for mariners, complete with a full-scale “bridge simulator,” that will open near Seattle’s waterfront in April.
The state-of-the-art simulator will help train seamen and mates to operate large vessels, just as flight simulators help train aircraft pilots. The $1 million device, the only one of its kind between San Francisco and Seward, Alaska, will feature lifelike effects, bridge equipment identical to that used on a full-sized ship, and a software-driven system that can simulate the characteristics of any ship operating in most ports in the world.
The simulator is the core of a 15,000-square-foot facility that will operate from a renovated building leased from the Port of Seattle near the container terminals on the waterfront.
The port contributed $550,000 in tenant improvements on the structure in return for a 10-year lease, said Gregg Trunnell, director of the Pacific Maritime Institute, which is developing the new facility. The training center will include classrooms and offices, a dozen computer stations for initial training, and the simulator itself.
The institute, known as PMI, is a state-certified vocational school that has operated in the Seattle area since 1972. The institute is supported by the Maritime Advancement, Training Education and Safety Program, a Baltimore-based nonprofit trust formed by ocean carriers and unions to support training and safety programs. The trust also operates the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies in Baltimore, a training center substantially larger than the Pacific Maritime Institute.