New simulation platforms and immersive technologies are deepening the learning experience, bringing greater safety to the LNG bunkering process
Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality are the latest tools to enhance traditional simulation technologies. These immersive experiences improve training for crew, students and investigators, with benefits across the board, from accident investigation to site planning.
Developed in the 1980s for the cruise and ferry industry, BMT Rembrandt is a Windows-based full mission simulator that uses precision hydrodynamics for ship modelling and the metaocean environment. BMT Rembrandt can generate simulations that incorporate currents, winds and ship-to-ship interaction using automatic identification systems (AIS), voyage data recorders (VDR), electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS) and LiDAR data to create 3D reconstructions of landscapes.
Those simulations might explore ship-to-ship transfer operations in LNG, restricted navigation of large LNG carriers, or offshore oil and gas terminal operations.
When it comes to investigating vessel accidents, BMT director of simulation and training Phil Thompson says BMT Rembrandt is an excellent digital forensics tool.
Speaking at Riviera’s LNG Ship/Shore Interface Conference in November, Mr Thompson said BMT Rembrandt generates a visual reconstruction of an event, with the capability of playback, and allows a seamless switch over into full simulation ‘what-if’ scenarios. Users can, for example, explore the impact of alternative rudder and engine orders, or the impact of different weather conditions.
“The ability to visually recreate a collision will help to answer a key question – what happened?”
“We believe that the accident happened at that point in time,” said Mr Thompson, “then you could pause the simulation and take control of it and look at ‘what if’ scenarios. It becomes a very powerful ‘lessons learnt’ tool.”
Shipowners can also use the software to respond quickly after an accident. “Within an hour of an accident data has been sent back to the head office,” he says. “These AVI files of lessons learnt can be shared across the fleet.”
The ability to rapidly convert, integrate, analyse and interpret VDR, AIS and ECDIS data to visually recreate a collision, contact and grounding event can help to answer a key question – what happened?
A crowd simulation software, widely used in films such as Lord of the Rings, was the basis for a shipping traffic simulator, which has been used for siting LNG terminals in Asia Pacific and the US.
“It helps assess collision risk challenges in dense traffic streams by reproducing realistic navigation and collision avoidance behaviour,” said Mr Thompson. “This includes observing a clear set of steering rules, reducing speed or stopping when needed and following defined traffic routes.”
He said the tool can be run with future scenarios of traffic growth for periods exceeding 30 years. The simulated model will reveal conflicts, encounters, frequency and collisions, which can inform quantified risk assessments.
For citing an LNG terminal, said Mr Thompson, the simulation can be used to assess the risk level of the waterways surrounding the proposed site and produce a statistical measure identifying high-risk water areas; it can then recommend appropriate mitigation measures to alleviate those risks.
BMT has also been experimenting with the use of VR technology in hazard training workshops normally held in traditional classroom settings. BMT director of business development, critical infrastructure Louise Ledgard says using gaming goggles helps create an immersive environment, where the user can interact with objects and scenarios, building a deeper knowledge and a better understanding of risks.
Simulator training for LNG-fuelled ships
As LNG as a marine fuel has become a more popular option, so too, has been the need for simulation training to support masters, crew and personnel of LNG-fuelled ships.
French cryogenic cargo containment engineering firm GTT realised the rapidly emerging need for well-trained, experienced crews to operate LNG systems onboard and onshore. As a result, it formed UK-based GTT Training Ltd in 2014 to provide training for maritime professionals involved with the use of LNG as a cargo and marine fuel and the development of associated simulation tools. Besides courses on LNG as a marine fuel, GTT Training offers training in LNG operations, GTT membrane technologies and specialist courses for floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs), LNG terminal marine coordinators and ship-to-ship transfer operations.
A recipient of the LNG World Shipping Safety Award for 2019 at Riviera’s LNG Ship/Shore Interface Conference, GTT signed a services and support contract with container shipping giant CMA CGM in February for the commissioning, operation and maintenance of its 23,000-teu LNG-fuelled ultra-large container ships. Each of the nine ULCS vessels will be equipped with 18,600-m3 LNG fuel tanks that use GTT Mark III membrane containment technology. CMA CGM Jacques Saade, the first of the series, was launched at China’s Shanghai Jiangnan-Changxing Shipyard in September and will enter service in 2020.
Among the services that GTT will provide to CMA CGM is training for crews of the container ships via its G-Sim Liquid Gas Handling simulator. The simulator for LNG fuel gas handling systems and bunkering recreates LNG operations on CMA CGM vessels. GTT will also provide technical assistance aboard the vessels when the LNG tanks are commissioned and during the first bunkering operations.
The simulation model for LNG carriers incorporates 12 different configurations to match different vessels, allowing for detailed training in LNG cargo operations.
G-Sim and all the model libraries have been approved by class DNV-GL in accordance with its standard for maritime simulator systems (DNVGL-ST-0033), meeting the requirements of Type A (full mission simulator) and Type S as appropriate. The software can be installed on any Windows-based PC or tablet and configured for single or multiple stations.
G-Sim LNG simulator software was installed at the MTC Maritime Training Centre in Hamburg, Germany last year. The installation consists of one instructor and three student stations and includes the model libraries that allow training dedicated to various types of LNG carriers and LNG fuel gas handling and bunkering systems. It will be used by MTC Hamburg to expand its training portfolio, in particular, to train personnel for service on LNG-fuelled vessels.
The centre instructs masters, crew and all personnel in flag state-approved basic (IGF I) and advanced (IGF II) training for the operation of LNG-fuelled ships and practical fire-fighting operations for service on tankers and ships that are subject to the IGF code.