Australian training centres are upgrading simulators, while a UK centre trains masters to operate tugs on the Thames
Perth Simulation Centre in Australia is adding new simulators and software to enhance training in port and offshore operations. Located in Bibra Lake, Western Australia, it was formerly Farstad Offshore Simulation Centre and the Offshore Simulation Centre (OSC). It is now an independently operated centre of excellence for the marine and construction industries.
“We are embarking on a programme of upgrades to the centre alongside our software providers to increase the simulation experience to what is possible within the virtual environment,” says Perth Simulation Centre managing director Oliver Bailey.
“This will include significant advances in technology, and sees the system applying real physics, both above and below the water line, putting it in an ideal position to provide proof of concept in both design and operation.”
Mr Bailey says simulators could also be applied in maritime casualty investigations and modelling salvage methodologies to optimise outcomes. However, the simulators will mostly be used to train seafarers.
“We can then apply this to training individuals to perform the operation, allowing crews and planners to both optimise and practice their planned scopes of work in a safe and repeatable environment,” explains Mr Bailey.
“As part of this, we will be bringing in a larger number of azimuth stern drive tugs and other specialist tugs to allow operators to train both for port and pilot work, as well as offtake support and other marine activities.”
Mr Bailey also expects the software to be used for marine optimisation, to plan and verify offshore projects and installations, “and apply digital twins for better project planning as they move offshore”.
Perth Simulation Centre has six Wärtsilä training bridges for conventional shipping and pilot approach work; two Nautical Institute class B accredited, dynamic positioning (DP) training bridge simulators (one from Rolls-Royce and one from Kongsberg); and five class C DP training simulators (two from Rolls-Royce and three from Kongsberg).
Upgrades to Perth Simulator facilities include improvements to the OSC simulators. There are two 360° vessel bridges, each contained within a 15.7-m dome providing full peripheral vision. These have class A training bridges for conventional navigation and DP operations, plus Rolls Royce anchor-handling equipment controls to conduct winch, rig move and anchor handling operations.
OSC facilities include two crane cabins contained within domes, seven personnel screen stations, an engineroom and ballasting station.
“Each of the systems can operate interactively with another, providing an immersive simulation experience,” says Mr Bailey. “The software is not confined to a programme or set of parameters. It can be used to create any environment for virtually prototyping.”
Australian Maritime College (AMC) Search, the training and consultancy division, has taken delivery of a Rotortug simulation model for use in the Centre for Maritime Simulations (CMS) in Launceston, Tasmania.
CMS houses a suite of advanced simulators including the DNV class A, Kongsberg-powered full mission bridge, engineroom simulator and two 360° tug simulators used for training and professional development.
This comes as demand is increasing for AMC Search’s simulation capabilities. The Rotortug simulation model was installed to train current tug masters employed by TasPorts, the major port operator in Tasmania, which is using Rotortugs for the first time.
The simulation training focuses on the intricacies of handling a Rotortug and gaining experience in a controlled safe environment. Area models of ports were created by an inhouse modelling team. This saved TasPorts time and money compared with outsourcing area model creation and enables real-time alterations during exercises.
Familiar ship models for towage exercises are available from AMC’s library of ship models. Training on the new Rotortug simulator model is part of a suite of programmes undertaken by the TasPorts team to ensure a safe and swift transition to this new tug type.
HR Wallingford provided virtual prototyping and master training for tug crews involved in construction of the Tideway super sewer alongside the River Thames in London. Tugs manoeuvre barges transporting spoil and construction materials for the 25-km Thames Tideway Tunnel to avoid congesting roads.
HR Wallingford developed a model at its UK Ship Simulation Centre. The simulation, which covers the tidal River Thames from Putney Bridge to Margaret Ness, has accurate visual scene, tides, flows, all timetabled passenger vessels and changeable weather conditions.
The hydrodynamic model uses data from tide gauges and flow measurements along the Thames to simulate realistic flow and tide conditions on the river. HR Wallingford’s naval architects also developed a suite of realistic ship and tug manoeuvring models for the vessels used in the simulation.
“The visualisation we developed is very detailed,” explains HR Wallingford head of ships and dredging Mark McBride. “By talking to the experienced river masters, we gathered it was important to incorporate relatively small features, which they use as prompts and markers. We therefore included details such as the undersides of the bridges, marker posts, and lions’ heads on the river embankment.”
A four-day course was designed by HR Wallingford with the Tideway team to ensure boat masters and mates were given the opportunity to demonstrate in the Simulation Centre they were fully prepared and aware of the health and safety requirements of the project. Masters and mates are assessed during normal operations, such as passage planning and manoeuvring up to five barges at once. They had to demonstrate how they would respond in unexpected scenarios. The simulation allowed them to examine credible emergency situations in a safe, risk-free environment. HR Wallingford has run 30 masters’ courses and 24 mates’ courses, resulting in 52 masters and 44 mates being certified to work on the Tideway project.
Training in the pandemic
Simulator-based training has been challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic as seafarers are unable to travel to onshore centres. In reaction, VStep developed a portable vessel-handling simulator with interactive controls and a cloud-based facility for its training.
VStep Cloud provides access to VStep’s Nautis simulators, enabling remote training, and reducing the need for travel. Its portable solutions use mimics of ship or tug controls for ship-handling training at a remote location with access to a screen.
“Hardware and software are brought together in one compact and transportable case,” says VStep brand manager Anh Tran. Trainees just need a power socket and an HDMI cable to connect with a screen.
These simulators, and VStep’s main desktop and bridge simulators, have haptic feedback controls which provide tactile feedback when trainees make a wrong move or sail too close to shore.
VStep released Nautis 3.7 with a new assessment tool based on a visual logic editor. “This allows the instructors to assess multiple trainees’ performance,” says Mr Tran. When those conditions are met, the logic editor will trigger events. “This gives instructors the opportunity to better monitor, evaluate and assess according to the standards of training,” says Mr Tran.
E-learning has also become more important during the Covid pandemic. Providers such as Ocean Technologies Group (OTG) have flourished. Simulator providers have joined forces with these companies to provide complete training packages. Wärtsilä Voyage started collaborating with OTG in February to provide combined simulator and remote training. They are merging their digital technologies to provide one platform of maritime learning resources. This uses OTG’s Ocean Learning Platform, which was launched in January 2021.
In April, OneLearn Global, a division of One Net, introduced a personalised approach to interactive e-learning. This learning management system for the maritime, energy, hospitality and industrial sectors will “optimise the learner experience, drive engagement through certification and award badges for positive encouragement and reward,” the company says. Seafarers can study relevant courses prior to embarking on a vessel or as pre-joining training prior to employment.
In Greece, SQLearn joined forces with Moore Greece to produce online training programs related to administration, financial management and regulatory compliance of shipping companies. This partnership combines SQLearn’s e-learning in the shipping industry with Moore’s expertise in the fields of accounting, financial reporting, corporate governance, risk management and regulatory compliance.
Riviera Maritime Media’s ITS Salvage Webinar Week is being held 15 June 2021 – use this link for more details and to register