BSM corporate expert liquified gas Chris Clucas (pictured) and director Maritime Training Centre (India) Brijendra Srivastava extol the virtues of simulator training
BSM, which manages 25 LNG carriers, is a leader in using simulators for training. Our global Maritime Training Centres (MTCs) have full-mission bridge and engine simulators and LICOS cargo simulators.
As the airline industry knows, computer simulation offers a risk-free environment to test students’ capabilities and to reinforce classroom learning. However, in shipping, most training regimes rely on time served, in which the cadet learns from senior personnel the situations that may occur on board.
This is not really effective. On a modern vessel, where everything works well, the trainee may experience few practical problems. Increased use of simulators is part of the pro-active training approach expected from quality operators and managers.
But unless the wider industry recognises the benefits of simulation training, it is difficult to justify this investment.
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The simulator at BSM’s Mumbai MTC allows up to six participants to train simultaneously on independent stations monitored from the instructor’s terminal. The Mumbai centre conducts three-day Operational Level and five-day Management Level courses using LNG simulators, approved by DNV GL and that meet Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) standards. It has conducted more than 60 courses for over 300 BSM onboard personnel as well as for companies including Shell, BW Maritime, Chevron, K Line and Honeywell.
The LNG industry has a high-level performance and safety record, but faces rapid growth in ship numbers. How do we avoid diluting experience on board ships and reducing operational standards? You can put on board numerous extra trainees to learn the business, but this is the least appropriate way to learn, especially if everything is running like clockwork.
Our industry is well-suited to simulation – for navigation simulation, where the characteristics of the large vessels can become familiar to experienced gas-ship personnel, and for engineers, facing the novel situation of using cargo as fuel.
Simulator-based training exposes participants to all aspects required during the complete drydock-to-drydock cycle of an LNG carrier: gassing up, loading, discharging, stripping, warming up and ballast voyage spray cooling.
On deck, the cargo officers can practise setting up and operating the gas flows to shore during loading and to the engineroom at sea, or deal with unusual situations that arise if valves fail to open or close, causing back-flow and potential cargo tank overflow during discharge.
Instructors can adjust exercises to suit the candidate’s experience and tailor them to unusual scenarios, such as failure of shore vapour return and the need to use the ship-board vaporiser to maintain tank pressures and discharge rates.
SIGTTO courses, such as remote valve indicator failure leading to unexpected cargo flows during discharge, can also be simulated.
The shipping industry is looking to improve standards. If we recognise the value of simulation training and use it to the full, we will learn vital lessons that our aviation colleagues already appreciate.
LNG has always been the most forward-thinking sector in shipping. SIGTTO’s recent creation of a Human Elements Committee shows our willingness to explore new avenues to improve standards. This, surely, is the greatest opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of simulation training.
LNG Ship/Shore Interface Conference chairman Chris Clucas says the industry is being realistic about capex and innovating to bring LNG to the market affordably. Mr Clucas was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the LNG sector.