Creating A New Paradigm for Simulator Training

Friday, April 05, 2002
by Glen Paine, Executive Director, MITAGS Today, we live in a new era of global maritime standards, with the advent of ISO, ISM, and STCW-95. The industry has embraced these standards as mechanisms to ensure that corporate policy, company operational procedures, and mariners sailing on the open seas are measured and certified. Old internal practices have been done away with, and the new standard within the industry is to certify compliance in companies and aboard ships. At the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS) and Pacific Maritime Institute (PMI), it is our business to train professional mariners. Our curriculum has been structured to exceed the standards of STCW and to provide mariners with the most realistic and technically advanced training available. Therefore, at MITAGS, it has been our commitment to invest in upgrades to our equipment and to hire the most knowledgeable instructors in the industry. Over the last two years, MITAGS has purchased and upgraded the technology for instruction in our courses, ECDIS, ARPA, radars, VTS labs, and Global Marine Distress Safety Systems (GMDSS). These new systems have allowed our instructors to work with their classes in a more realistic setting. As this article goes to press, MITAGS is in the final stages of upgrading its full-mission simulator. The institute purchased the ANS 5000 system from STN Atlas of Bremen, Germany. This state-of-the-art simulator will employ the latest generation of photo-textured graphics, advanced ship maneuvering capabilities, and a complete Raytheon integrated bridge system utilizing Kamewa joystick control systems for steering and ship maneuverability. Through the use of STN Atlas designed removable bridge equipment sections, the MITAGS Raytheon Integrated Bridge System (IBS) is configurable and adaptable to many different types of shiphandling and bridge resource training. In a newly developed training partnering agreement in support of this upgrade, MITAGS is working together with the U.S. oil transport firm, Polar Tankers, Inc, to provide a near replica of Polar's recently developed Millennium Class OPA-90 double hull tankers. MITAGS and Polar are working together to provide training support for the crews and pilots of these new vessels. There will be up to ten Millennium Class tankers that will eventually be built for the trade between Valdez, Alaska and U.S. West Coast ports. The ability of Polar Tanker bridge officers to be trained on a replicated Millennium Class bridge and to have a system that will display realistic port environments in which they will sail in and out of along the West Coast is paramount for crew safety and environmental protection. Leading Edge Simulation Technology The STN Atlas system was chosen by MITAGS for the simulation upgrade due to its superior robust operating system design, advanced graphics platform, and strong worldwide support. The STN Atlas ANS5000 simulation system is an established simulation product that has evolved from high-end military simulation systems running on UNIX based hardware. The new ANS5000 deploys powerful graphics capabilities and a custom interface, running in a user-friendly LINUX operating system. The entire system is hosted with Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) equipment, increasing reliability and lifecycle costs. The ANS5000 system is a proven worldwide performer in demanding simulation tasks, such as channel design research, ship performance testing, multi-sensor integration, testing, and integrated bridge simulation training. During an extensive review of available simulation systems, MITAGS found the STN Atlas ANS5000 system to display unusually high fidelity and richly textured graphics, coupled with precise and accurate ship simulation behavior. In testing, the ANS5000 system transitioned between simulations quickly and without flaw; the ships handled with smooth, coupled motions, and the debriefing systems were by far the best ever tested. The ANS5000 system employs video, audio, and situation display information fully integrated to the exercise playback. The ANS5000 visual databases are efficiently built from official ECDIS S-57 data, digital terrain data, and actual photos of database elements. Thus, the system is designed to capture and display accurate and realistic simulation detail for best-in-class training performance. Simulating the Bridge of the Future In a departure from traditional bridges and bridge control systems, the new MITAGS bridge will employ integrated joystick steering from Kamewa and backup tiller steering provided by Raytheon-Anchutz. These systems allow for unmatched flexibility in ship maneuvering and control, with up to six thrusters and four main propulsion systems integrated to the joystick system. Other notable features of the new MITAGS bridge include the following: — A central command center displaying five, 24-in., flat panel Samsung monitors for ARPA, Electronic Chart Information Display Information System (ECDIS), and conning displays. — A newly developed Raytheon Automated Navigation Trackeeping System (ANTS) employing a logic/ship-motion forecast system driven through an adaptive autopilot-ECDIS interface. — An integrated Det Norske Veritas Watch-1, Raytheon, Nauto-alarm, watch alarm system. — A fully simulated, engine-steering relationship for use in conventional, azi-pod, variable pitch, ducted nozzle, jet, tractor, and dynamic positioning control systems. — An STN Atlas NACOS, ECDIS-Conning system for advanced control conning displays. — Dual operator seating with special attention to ergonomic design for realistic, high-speed craft simulation. The Big Picture The simulated bridge will be hosted in MITAGS' unique simulation theater. Easily one of the world's largest, the MITAGS simulation space provides room for two, 40-ft. high, 80-ft. diameter curved projection screens for the display of large-scale simulation graphics. The complete training system will be constructed to DNV Class A simulator standards and configured for one-man bridge operations, as defined under the DNV Watch-1 certification rules. Employing 360 degrees of photo-realistic images coupled to high fidelity ship modeling dynamics and with the latest integrated bridge equipment, the new MITAGS system will be ready to conduct the highest quality port development, shiphandling, and bridge resource management training. Anyone interested in simulation training is invited to visit MITAGS in Linthicum Heights, Md., which is just outside Washington D.C. and near the Baltimore/Washington International Airport. For more information, Circle 2 on Reader Service Card

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