New Equipment Further Improves Simulators


October 2015


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The newly renovated simulators at the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education recently received another state-of-the-art upgrade, in the form of realistic tugboat control chairs.


Both tug bridges were equipped with these chairs, which house controls on the arms of the chairs for authentic muscle memory training. The equipment is specifically designed to replicate azimuthal stern drive (ASD), Z-drive and tractor tug controls by configuring the chair and bridge to match the real thing.


According to the school’s Assistant Vice President Bart Rogers, “The chairs add even more value to the training in the new tug bridges by helping to maintain a realistic environment and promoting the development or enhancement of muscle memory while performing tug maneuvers. It also has the added feature of hands-free communications, which enables the participant to maintain situational awareness and externally communicate with other bridges in docking, undocking and any other types of maneuvering. With this enhancement we provide a ‘next to real’ training for any of our tug operations.”


The chairs were also equipped with radio push buttons that will allow the multiple tug bridges to communicate with each other, which enables more realistic, multiple-vessel simulations. The radio operations are also hands-free, letting the operator maintain complete control of the vessel at all times.


The new equipment will be used in multiple classes offered through the maritime school in Piney Point, Maryland. “The courses we typically run in the tug bridges are company specific,” said Rogers. “We work closely with subject matter experts from our companies to develop relevant scenarios which will give the participants the best possible training outcomes. We are currently scheduled to run a Crescent tug operations bridge resource management class, as well as an ATB Operations and Escort Team Training Session in October and November for Crowley. This will include our ATB members training in conjunction with port pilots and tug operators to demonstrate communication skills and teamwork; human limitations and error trapping; tug capabilities and limitations; and best practices related to bridge resource management.”


These chairs are just the latest addition to the recent renovations that have taken place at the Paul Hall Center, which underwent one of the most comprehensive upgrades in the 48-year history of the school. The expansive project included new, state-of-the-art simulators, classroom expansions, hotel improvements, and other technological upgrades throughout the campus.


The Paul Hall Center—which includes, among other components, the Seafarers Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship and the Joseph Sacco Fire Fighting and Safety School—offers more than 70 U.S. Coast Guard-approved classes, many of which emphasize hands-on training. Students may have opportunities to receive college credits for more than 50 of those courses.


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