The brand-new high-tech support vessel simulator ot Memorial University Centre for Marine Simulation,, one of only a very few around the world

The brand-new high-tech support vessel simulator at Memorial University's Marine Institute Centre for Marine Simulation, one of only a very few around the world.
Photo Credit: Memorial University Marine Institute

Newfoundland offers a very unique ship simulator for offshore supply vessels.

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It’s a unique, and extremely valuable training tool for those seeking to pilot ships working around the deep sea oil drilling platforms.

Memorial University of Newfound and Labrador has just completed installation of an extremely high-tech new teaching tool called the “offshore operations simulator”.

Captain Eben March is an Instructor at the Centre for Marine Simulation , Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University in St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Capt. Ebenezer March, instructor at the Centre for Marine Simulation at memorial University St John's
Capt. Ebenezer March, instructor at the Centre for Marine Simulation at memorial University St John’s © supplied

The new simulator is very similar in concept to the ones used to train commercial and air force pilots. The only real difference is instead of sitting in a pilot seat, the offshore operator is standing on what closely resembles the bridge of a modern offshore supply vessel and tug.

Both trainees, jet or ship, have a number of controls to deal with, computer screens and gauges to monitor and large screens presenting virtually exact views of what would be seen out the windows.

Capt. March points out that while there are other “anchor handling vessel” simulators, this is the only offshore supply vessel simulator that has the motion simulation as do the pilot simulators.

the interior is laid out like the bridge of the supply vessel, the large LED screens simulating the windows for realistic visual images, with the typical computer screens showing various digital guages for variou engine rpm, radar, etc.
The interior is laid out like the bridge of the supply vessel, the large LED screens simulating the windows for realistic visual images, with the typical computer screens showing various digital gauges for the differents engines rpm and other functioning parameter, radar, etc. © Memorial U Marine Institute

In fact he says, combined with the surround sound audio system which provides all the sounds one would hear from the various engine noises to winching, cables on the deck, deckhand shouts, etc. the added ship and wave motions of the entire simulator complete the extremely realistic feeling of piloting one of these ships which can be around 90 metres long and about 18 metres wide on average and with about 20,000 hp.

And of course there is also communication with other ships and the rig to be conducted simultaneously.

A supply vessel and drilling rig off the Newfoundland coast in an undated photo, the rig was slightly damaged in a collision with the ship in heavy seas and was towed to port for repairs. The new simulator will help train pilots of vessels to cope in such conditions.
A supply vessel and drilling rig off the Newfoundland coast in an undated photo, this rig was slightly damaged in a collision with the supply ship in heavy seas and was towed to port for repairs. The new simulator will help train pilots of vessels to cope in such conditions. © Courtesy Shipspotting via CBC

Given the often rough sea and weather conditions in the Atlantic, it can be quite a handful to skilfully, and safely conduct whatever task is at hand, whether off or onloading equipment, towing, or setting the heavy rig anchors.

Another screen imitates a window toward the stern of ths ship showing a worker on deck. Endless varieties of situations and conditions can be programmed into the training scenarios
Another screen in the simulator imitates a window toward the stern of ths ship showing a worker on deck. Endless varieties of situations and conditions can be programmed into the training scenarios © Memorial U- Marine Institute

Courses are for four people at a time, and each session last five days.  The first course will be offered in two week’s time following the grand opening next week,

They are not only for new or soon to be captains, but also would provide additionally training for experienced captains of thes offshore anchor/tug/supply vessels.

Computer generati image of typical offshore supply ship and oil rig setting the heavy anchors for the rig. The Memorial University Maritme institute simulator trains to pilot these vessels in what is often very tricky situations on the high seas.
Computer generated image of typical offshore supply ship and oil rig setting the heavy anchors for the rig. The Memorial University Marine Institute simulator trains individuals to pilot these vessels in what is often very tricky situations on the high seas. © Memorial University- Marine Institute

Capt March thinks that following the grand opening, there should be quite a bit of interest within Canada, but also internationally given the sophistication of this simulator in Newfoundland.

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