In December, Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) launched an initiative aimed at transforming training for the nation’s inland mariners at its Center for Maritime Education in Kentucky. The official dedication of the refurbished center took place on December 10th, revealing the Center’s blueprint for preparing mariners for safe operations throughout U.S. waterways.

The Center’s leaders spent 15 months carrying out a comprehensive review to gut and rebuild the training facilities, with the start of construction and renovation taking place in August, 2014. Contracting with Kongsberg Maritime to upgrade the facility with state-of-the-art simulation equipment, the Center also partnered with Ray Black and Son for construction, including building new classrooms and de-briefing zones, upgrading hospitality areas and adding a new visitor’s entrance and conference center.

The SCI simulator upgrades include 23 new vessel models and hardware, software improvements, increased visual capacity and new throttle and steering systems. The new simulator uses Z-drive technology and takes advantage of pilothouse geometry to allow for close-quarter maneuvering. Combine that with the flat panel LED visual technology, and the new full-mission bridge simulators provide a realism that makes using the simulator like piloting an actual vessel – even for a seasoned professional.

SCI has now begun a new year of training in the updated center and anticipates training nearly 1,000 mariners in 2015.

Said Capt. Stephen Polk, Director of Maritime Education and Training, “This renovation and refurbishment outfits mariners with resources to achieve the highest levels of professional performance.”

The updated technology and infrastructure was made possible with support of several industry partners, including Ingram Marine Group, The Ray and Kay Eckstein Charitable Trust, Richard King Mellon Foundation, J. Russell and Jill P. Flowers, The Lay Family, AmherstMadison, American Commercial Lines, Crounse Corporation, James Marine, Inland marine Service, Petter Supply and Friends of Terence “Tuna” Gomez, Jr.