Seaman’s Church Institute (SCI), recently opened a simulator training facility in Houston. SCI's third facility represents state-of-the-art technology as well as world-class instruction for professional mariners. After attending the Center's first training class in April, Kirby Instructor John Moyle said, "The simulation was so real that when they stopped the simulator, I actually lurched forward." Moyle has over 30 years of experience as a captain and is now an instructor.
"Training is more than increased efficiency. A well-trained crew saves lives and protects the environment," said Captain Eric Larsson, Director of the Center for Maritime Education that also includes SCI training facilities in New York City and Paducah, Ky. Thirteen leading maritime companies in the Gulf Region have already committed to more than 40 weeks of training over the next five years.
The training offers professional mariners an opportunity to refine their skills in an environment that simulates real life. The four bridges/wheelhouses are actual size, and the simulations are constructed from field research, including digital photography, to produce details such as shore-side landmarks. Set in 50-ft. diameter theaters, the screens offer peripheral as well as forward views. The simulation even includes the sounds and vibrations of the engine.
When the American Waterways Operators (AWO) instituted The Responsible Carrier Program in 1994, its goals included consistently reliable, always safe, and environmentally benign cargo transportation. The AWO realized that professional training was critical to reaching this goal. Thomas Allegretti, president of the American Waterways Operators, recalled, "That's when we witnessed what surely must have been Divine Intervention. A man with a collar and a vision emerged to present us with the gifts of these centers for maritime education. They give greater worth and professionalism to the men and women who navigate our vessels."
And "that priest and his organization" added more possibilities to this Center. "We can train crews from deep-sea, coastal and inland vessels that work the Gulf Region waterways. SCI did this database-driven simulation created in-house," said the Rev. Canon Peter Larom, SCI's Executive Director.
"SCI takes the mission of the Church into the heart of its very sophisticated training for mariners," said the Rt. Rev. E. Don Taylor, Vicar Bishop of New York City who blessed the facility.
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas also welcomed SCI with a Bible presented by the Rev. Laurence Gipson, Rector of St. Martin's Houston, the largest Episcopal congregation in Texas.
Last year, over 6,800 ships and 158,000 barges traveled the challenging Houston Ship Channel. These vessels navigated more than 30 miles through a narrow channel from Galveston Bay to the Port of Houston. Port of Houston Authority Chairman Jim Edmonds said, "This Center provides real life training in a risk free environment. We need this kind of ongoing training as we continue to grow."