Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Training for the Merchant or Royal Navies Was Never Like This

Biggest and Best Maritime Simulation Centre Opens in UK
Shipping News Feature
UK – This week saw the much vaunted maritime simulation centre, situated at Solent University's main campus in Southampton, opened by Sir Michael Bibby Bt., DL, President of the UK Chamber of Shipping. The centre, the largest and most sophisticated in the country is an important part of the £43 million investment that the University is putting into maritime education and training at Solent.

The new facility will include the latest equipment and software from Wärtsilä including: eight full mission bridge simulators; over 50 part task simulators; a full mission engineering room simulator; high voltage simulators; liquid cargo simulators; on-and off-shore crane simulators; GMDSS radio communications and VTS suites; DP simulators; and four multi-purpose desktop simulation classrooms. Speaking at the opening, Sir Michael Bibby said:

“There is no doubt that these centres can give better training and improve safety for everyone at sea. But we also need to attract more young people into the maritime industry. We need deck officers and engineers on cruise ships, tankers, offshore and bulk carriers, and of course, the Royal Navy. We need to build our profile and promote our careers because these young officer cadets are the future of our maritime nation, and this facility could help attract more young people into it. I would like to thank the University for creating, developing and making this facility into the fantastic place it is.”

The £7 Million simulation centre, partly funded by Solent LEP, will open its doors for business this June and the state-of-the-art centre will also offer the opportunity for several new specialist training courses, such as dynamic positioning, vessel traffic management and ice navigation. Everything will be networked for joint exercises between bridge and engine compartments, or ship and shore. The simulation centre will also feature hundreds of ship models, which will be used by cadets and maritime professionals alike.

Designed with the future in mind, the new centre also features a ‘Virtual Shipyard’, to test ships which are in the process of being designed, or to create digital twins of existing ships. This allows officers to train in a virtual environment that mirrors their own workplace, further enhancing the experience.

The ‘Virtual Shipyard’ will also be available for the undergraduate and post graduate degree students on the University’s yacht design and production courses. Students will not only benefit from testing their designs in Solent’s own 60 metre long towing tank but also in a virtually unlimited set of environmental parameters.

The centre will also play a pivotal role in the University’s maritime research, from Sea Traffic Management to the machine execution of COLREGS, and further studies looking at navigational safety and the human-machine interface and operations. Professor Syamantak Bhattacharya, Dean of the Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering said:

“We have a long history in pioneering the use of simulator technology, ever since the launch of the UK’s first simulators at our Warsash campus more than 40 years ago. Our new centre continues that well-established tradition, offering access to the latest cutting-edge hardware and software. We are proud to remain at the forefront in delivering specialist higher-level training.

“Digital systems are key to the successful future of the maritime industry and there is a demand for digital skills across the maritime workforce. In a fast evolving maritime industry it’s crucial that students receive the best educational foundation in their initial studies, and are able to expand on it through continuous learning throughout their professional careers, this new simulation centre will do exactly that. We look forward to building on our world-renowned Warsash heritage, working with maritime sectors across the globe to ensure our training methods are relevant for current and future mariners.”

A short video of the simulator in action can be seen here.

Photo: Sir Michael Bibby ‘at the helm’.