We have at our company a new simulator training exercise, not mandated by any agency. I wonder how many companies out there have a similar course?
We use Seattle Maritime Academy’s full mission bridge simulator to simulate a situation where a ship has lost all GPS and ECDIS, and has to navigate in a crowded, complex waterway for long periods, using only radar and charts, at night.
The training was designed and supervised by a senior captain who still sails actively. The purpose is to make sure mates nowadays, some with many years of experience in charge of a watch, can safely navigate in a way which was commonplace up to the 1980s, in case an emergency forces them to do so.
For the first part of the two-day exercise, a team of two mates navigates a 300’ LOA container ship through the San Juan Islands of Washington, through a network of intersecting channels, with high tidal current. The navigators have to keep the vessel on track, while avoiding traffic.
The second day is harder. The navigators pilot through the length of San Francisco Bay at night, using only radar and navaid lights, until out to sea.
The critiques the trainees gave afterwards were honest: the training was valuable, but stressful to say the least. Everybody says they can navigate, as opposed to using an ECDIS–until they are forced to do so. Here some navigators did well, and some got through by the skin of their teeth. Now the company knows who needs additional training.
Any other companies doing non-mandated navigational training like this, as opposed to collision avoidance training?