Seafarers and tug crews use remote learning to gain a greater understanding of towage safety, while simulators are used to teach port operations
Ocean Technologies Group subsidiary Videotel has released an updated version of its Working with Tugs online course as e-learning rises in popularity during the global coronavirus pandemic.
This course is designed to teach people how to work safely with tugs and is used by pilots, ships’ masters, bridge team officers and deck crew, and also used as a refresher for tugboat masters and crew.
It deals with prevalent safety issues and teases out some of the good and bad operations when tugs form part of a vessel’s manoeuvre, says Videotel quality assurance manager Steven Gosling.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, e-learning has attracted a whole new demographic of seafarers who recognise that learning in lockdown, particularly where their safety and livelihoods are concerned, is not something they can put off,” he explains to Tug Technology & Business.
“Bricks and mortar training may not be available at this time, but e-learning certainly is and seafarers new to this format are telling us how surprised and impressed they are by the levels of engagement and interactivity the online learning environment provides.”
E-learning courses can be accessed from most devices with online connectivity. Ocean Technologies has built up libraries of e-learning and computer-based training through Videotel and other subsidiaries.
“E-learning should not be the emergency back up when face-to-face training is unavailable, says Mr Gosling. “Today it is, and should be, the ‘go-to’ solution for a whole spectrum of training needs. Covid-19 has proven to the uninitiated that it works well.
“Just as companies are evaluating their future ways of working, seafarers will also be evaluating their preferences for learning in the future,” he says.
Working with Tugs has four modules covering the basics of towage, safe harbour operations, emergency towing arrangements and best practice in offshore towing.
“Pushing and towing today’s commercial ships using modern tugboats is fraught with risk,” says Mr Gosling. “In port, tugs are often working in restricted waters, while long-distance offshore tows present their own problems.
“As with all marine operations, good planning and preparation and effective communication between all of the parties involved can be the difference between operational success and failure,” says Mr Gosling.
Working with Tugs features animation, simulation, video, stills, subtitles and optional voiceover as required. “By its very nature with e-learning, the learner, not the trainer, drives the learning experience,” says Mr Gosling. “Modules can be revisited, animations can be replayed, interactive exercises can be re-run. All of these features are available to the learner, who is led towards module tests and a final onscreen assessment,” he explains.
Videotel’s course aims to raise awareness and cover basic principles to promote safe working practices among those involved in towing operations. There are four modules, each taking around two hours to complete.
Module 1 contains basic information about how to plan a towing operation with safety in mind. It illustrates the types of tug in general use and types of tow. It shows how to assess the risk and sets out best practice for safe towing, equipment inspection and maintenance, briefing and communication, identifying messenger and towlines and more.
Module 2 covers how to carry out a safe harbour towing operation. It emphasises the importance of communicating vital information and of operating at a safe speed.
This module focuses on how to minimise the risk of accidents while the ship is being towed in and out of port and outlines other risks encountered while undertaking a harbour towing operation.
Module 3 is about emergency towing arrangements, including IMO regulations, procedures, training and drills. It covers the arrangements that should be in place during emergency towing operations.
Module 4 goes into the main challenges and best practice in offshore towing. Deepsea towing operations can be challenging, and this module shows how users can minimise risk to keep fellow seafarers safe. This module looks at the factors that make offshore towing potentially more hazardous than harbour towing.
Any person successfully completing the onscreen assessment for the course under direct supervision (including remote supervision) may be issued with a Videotel course certificate.
Videotel’s sister company Seagull also has extensive libraries of computer-based training courses and remote assessment processes. Ocean Technologies continues to build on these libraries through acquisitions.
In June, Ocean technologies purchased the Marlins e-learning business from V.Group. This includes Marlins’ maritime English assessment product and its global approved test centre scheme. As part of this arrangement, Ocean Technologies will continue supplying training to thousands of seafarers on ships managed by V.Group worldwide by providing computer content, micro-learning, adaptive and gamified learning and virtual reality training.
Kongsberg Digital has developed a training simulator for navigating fast craft and patrol vessels. The first of these K-Sim fast craft simulators was delivered to Singapore Police Coast Guard Training Centre in Singapore.
This simulates vessel operations at speeds of more than 50 knots and integrates with an advanced eye-tracking system in addition to weapons capabilities. It uses an advanced physics engine and customisable hydrodynamic modelling, derived from and validated against recorded vessel performance data.
This duplicates how high-speed vessels behave in the real world when affected by factors such as wave movements or impacts with other crafts and floating objects in a range of sea states and at different speeds.
This simulator has a 270° horizontal field of view, low-radius, cylindrical visual projection system and a large vertical field of view with extension panels for floor projection covering the hull sides.
Its integrated physical bridge layout can accommodate genuine control and display apparatus such as navigation systems, engine start/stop switches and communications equipment to heighten the sensation of working in a complex onboard operating environment.
This simulator can expose trainees to a comprehensive range of complex scenarios. It supports training on advanced boat handling, navigation and interception techniques, escalation of force and weapons engagement.
Wärtsilä has supplied a marine simulator complex to the Marine Police Education and Training Center, Indonesian National Police Education Agency (Lemdikpol). This includes three full-mission navigation and ship-handling bridges with 180°, 270° and 360° of visualisation, a 15-trainee ECDIS simulator classroom and a 15-trainee radar simulator classroom. Wärtsilä also supplied a full-mission engineroom simulator integrated with the navigation simulator.
Partnership brings software and simulators together
System integrator RH Marine and VStep Simulation have signed a co-operation agreement to use RH Marine’s ECDIS chart and navigation systems on its bridge simulators supplied to academies, training institutes and fleet owners.
VStep supplies software and hardware for Nautis simulators for realistic bridge training in virtual environments. RH Marine supplies electrical, bridge and automation systems. Both companies already co-operate on dynamic positioning training with VStep hardware and RH Marine software.
VStep also supplies virtual reality software for RH Marine’s demonstrator for bridge systems’ operations. This software is being upgraded as part of the co-operation.
These companies worked together in 2019 when they installed a new bridge simulator at the Royal Institute for the Navy in Den Helder, the Netherlands. VStep supplied the hardware and 360° of visualisation, while RH Marine supplied the chart and navigation software.
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