April 1977 - Maritime Reporter and Engineering News

Texaco VLCC Officers First In U.S. To Use Shiphandling Simulator

A computerized shiphandling simulator to train deck officers of supertankers and other ships began operations in February at LaGuardia Airport's Marine Air Terminal, New York City, with a group of marine officers of Texaco Inc. and subsidiary companies.

Featuring a ship's bridge from which officers look out upon a panoramic video reproduction of their "gaming area," the system is owned and operated by Marine- Safety International, a wholly owned subsidiary of FlightSafety International.

Albert L. Ueltschi, president and chief executive officer of FlightSafety, said at a demonstration of the training complex that MarineSafety has a five-year contract to provide this type of specialized training for more than 300 officers of Texaco's 160-vessel tanker fleet, ranging from 30,000- dwt vessels to the VLCCs. Training operations for the Texaco group will be simulated for the ports of Milford Haven, Wales, and Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia.

W.K. Savage Jr., vice president of Texaco Inc. in charge of marine operations, said that the MSI program "will provide our ship's officers with this type of advanced training to supplement Texaco's ongoing training programs, in keeping with the company's policy of continuously upgrading its marine officer training for the increased protection of the environment, vessels and crews." The equipment was designed and built by Sperry Systems Management, a division of Sperry Rand Corporation, to MarineSafety's specifications in coordination with Texaco Inc. and Methane Tanker Service Company.

Mr. Ueltschi said training will begin this summer on a similar long-term contract for more than 200 officers of the Methane Tanker Service Company, subsidiary of El Paso Natural Gas Company, on a simulated 125,000-cubicmeter LNG carrier. Their "simulator syllabus" will include training for the Chesapeake Bay and Savannah River, and docking simulation at El Paso's Elba Island LNG terminal, south of Savannah.

Located in a 4,500-square-foot, two-level area at LaGuardia Airport's Marine Air Terminal, the shiphandling simulator's central element is a full-scale replica of a ship's bridge, including wheelhouse and chart room, completely equipped with all navigational, propulsion control and communications equipment normally found aboard ship.

The ship's master or conning officer operates the simulator from the wheelhouse and responds to images projected on a 12-foot by 60-foot curved screen filling the entire viewing area from the bridge. The view is precisely the same as it would be if the ship were being maneuvered in the actual geographical area being simulated.

Visual imagery is provided by a three-camera, wide-angle optical probe which "tracks" a 15-foot by 30-foot model board of the geographical "gaming area" under simulation. The model boards cover a 50-square-mile area and include all the navigational aids, topographical and physical features of the area, including lighthouses, piers and jetties, buildings, rocks, cliffs and islands.

As the probe tracks the model board in response to the helm and engine orders executed on the bridge, it transmits video signals to three projectors below the wheelhouse which project lifesize, dynamic video images onto the panoramic screen. The actual movements of the probe are correlated with the precise hydrodynamic characteristics of the specific ship type being simulated, including the relative location of the wheelhouse on the particular class of vessel in question, so that not only is the visual presentation dynamic, but it is always presented in the correct perspective for viewing from the bridge.

Working from a control station in the after part of the bridge, an instructor directs the training exercises, including creation of sudden emergencies such as engine, thruster or rudder failure and threatened collision. He can also alter current, wind, weather and visibility. Further realism is provided by underway sounds, including ship's horn, engine and alarm signals and passing bell buoys.

Any training exercise can be stopped and/or replayed for evaluation and discussion.

Full information about the shiphandling simulator may be obtained from Capt. Douglas A.

Hard, Director, MarineSafety International, Marine Air Terminal, LaGuardia Airport, Flushing, N.Y. 11371.

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