With their new simulator up and running, the Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) Center for Maritime Education gives seafarers real-life experience using state-of-the-art simulation technology.

Classrooms at SCI traditionally accommodate groups of six to eight students for training sessions sponsored by various maritime transportation companies, but with a new simulator bridge installed at the Houston Center last fall, seafarers no longer have to come to SCI as part of a business or group to train or go through assessments needed to maintain their certifications.  With the new simulator, SCI now offers affordable, individual assessments to help students meet personal training goals.

The new simulator gives individual mariners the chance to obtain credentials and apply for new jobs and assignments.  Additionally, programmable simulations give candidates the opportunity to show employers and potential employers their ability to manage new challenges and geographic locations.

In a recent success story, SCI assisted one mariner in advancing his career by using the new simulator.  The student needed to complete a TOAR, which is often difficult to arrange, and which requires skills appraisal in a specific geographic location.  This particular mariner had worked on the water for two years, and had received substantial preparation from his captain; however, he had not yet navigated through a lock system.

SCI’s instructors and a designated examiner (DE) established an exercise that would instruct the mariner on the necessary skills.  Next, they tested his competency and knowledge on the simulator navigating through a model of a lock on the river.  The training included several one-hour sessions with a range of involvement from the DE, and during the final run, the DE sat in the observation room.  At the end of three sessions on the simulator, the mariner was able to pass the assessment and receive the needed sign-offs on five mandatory TOAR maneuvering procedures.

The DE commented that the mariner learned very quickly and made fast corrections throughout the trials.  The simulator gave the mariner a familiar environment that was so realistic that the mariner could apply his prior experience on the water and, consequently, learn new skills easily and quickly.

Because of the Transas simulator’s adaptability, further uses include the development of feasibility studies, instruction for mooring masters, and nighttime simulations.  We will no doubt be seeing even more success stories coming out of training centers with simulators like this one.

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