On Thursday 30 April, Sogreah, a firm of consulting engineers working in the fields of water, energy and the environment, launched the Otello, a 1:25 scale model of one of the largest French container carriers. This event was part of the celebrations to mark the extension of its Port Revel shiphandling training centre. Representing an investment of over $1.39m, the new facilities consolidate the center's worldwide leadership in training pilots in shiphandling operations.
The idea that lay behind the creation of Port Revel on a shallow lake of the Chambaran hills in North Isère, France, in the 1960s is just as valid today, namely using the group's expertise in physical modeling and the simulation of maritime phenomena to recreate navigation conditions as faithfully as possible. This system, uses model ships (at scale 1:25) sailing on a specially developed lake (with waves, currents, wind and shoals) giving the on-board pilots the same sensations as in the real world.
Launched in October 2007, the Port Revel development program yet again aims to address the needs of maritime pilots. As maritime trade explodes and the size and tonnage of ships increase, pilots' experience and know-how are increasingly decisive in handling these gigantic vessels safely in port and coastal areas, where there are many kinds of hazard. By extending the lake to cover a total of five hectares, of which 70% is shallow water, doubling the number of quays and installing additional current-generating equipment, Port Revel can now offer an extremely varied range of situations and host 10-12 trainees each week as opposed to eight previously.
Since the beginning of April, when the centre reopened, numerous French, Canadian, American, Belgian, Danish and Norwegian pilots have already been able to appreciate the new installations. Some 200 are expected in the months ahead to attend conventional courses or customised programs drawn up by the centre's experienced and highly motivated instructors to suit particular requirements.
The main characteristics of the real 8500 TEU container carrier are:
Lenth o.a. 1,096 ft
Breadth 140.5 ft
Draught from 32.8 ft to 47.5 ft
Windage 107,639 ft