Southampton: UK’s largest maritime simulation centre opens

The UK’s largest and most sophisticated maritime simulation centre, situated at Solent University’s main campus in Southampton, will be officially opened by Sir Michael Bibby Bt DL, president of the UK Chamber of Shipping, on May 21, 2019.

“As pioneers in the use of simulation for professional development of ship’s personnel since the 1970s, we are proud to remain at the forefront in delivering specialist higher-level training,” says professor Syamantak Bhattacharya, dean of the Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering.

An important part of the £43 investment that the University is putting into maritime education and training at Solent, the £7m simulation centre – partly funded by Solent LEP – will open its doors for business this June.

The new facility will include the latest equipment and software from Wärtsilä including: eight full mission bridge simulators; over 50 part task simulators; a full mission engineering room simulator; high voltage simulators; liquid cargo simulators; on-and off-shore crane simulators; GMDSS radio communications and VTS suites; DP simulators; and four multi-purpose desktop simulation classrooms.

This state-of-the-art facility will also offer the opportunity for several new specialist training courses, such as dynamic positioning, vessel traffic management and ice navigation.

Everything will be networked for joint exercises between bridge and engine compartments, or ship and shore. The simulation centre will also feature hundreds of ship models, which will be used by cadets and maritime professionals alike.

Designed with the future in mind, the new centre also features a ‘Virtual Shipyard’, to test ships which are in the process of being designed, or to create digital twins of existing ships. This allows officers to train in a virtual environment that mirrors their own workplace, further enhancing the experience.

The ‘Virtual Shipyard’ will also be available for the undergraduate and postgraduate degree students on the University’s yacht design and production courses. Students will not only benefit from testing their designs in Solent’s own 60m towing tank but also in a virtually unlimited set of environmental parameters.

The centre will also play a pivotal role in the University’s maritime research – from Sea Traffic Management to the machine execution of COLREGS, and further studies looking at navigational safety and the human-machine interface and operations.

“Digital systems are key to the successful future of the maritime industry and there is a demand for digital skills across the maritime workforce,” added Bhattacharya.

“In a fast evolving maritime industry it’s crucial that students receive the best educational foundation in their initial studies, and are able to expand on it through continuous learning throughout their professional careers – this new simulation centre will do exactly that. We look forward to building on our world-renowned Warsash heritage, working with maritime sectors across the globe to ensure our training methods are relevant for current and future mariners.”

Facilities

The world-class simulation centre enables seafarers to train on the latest specialist facilities using the most advanced Wärtsilä technology:

  • 8 full-mission navigational bridges
  • Full mission engine room simulator
  • Over 50 part task simulators
  • Full-mission Dynamic Positioning (DP) simulator and 6 DP stations
  • 4 multi-purpose desktop simulation classrooms
  • 2 Electronic Chart Display Information System (ECDIS) suites
  • On-shore and off-shore crane simulators
  • Liquid cargo operations simulators (LICOS)
  • High Voltage (HV) simulators
  • GMDSS radio communications suites
  • Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) suites
  • 4 debriefing classrooms, with replay capability for effective debriefs
  • All simulators and classrooms interconnected with 35,000m of data cable for joint exercises
  • Virtual Shipyard to build digital twins of existing ships or ships under design/construction