San Jacinto College to Build Maritime Training Center

Posted by Eric Haun
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Capt. John Kessler, maritime instructor, demonstrates how mariners train using the bridge simulators at the San Jacinto College maritime program. Photo credit: Jeannie Peng-Armao, San Jacinto College

Region’s newest maritime center to showcase room-sized simulators, and training and industry docks

As San Jacinto College prepares to break ground to build the region's newest maritime training facility, some of the industry's most sought after training technology has arrived and is awaiting its new home.

The college recently received three interactive, full-mission, ship bridge simulators, thanks to a collaborative agreement with the Houston Pilots. They will be moved to the College's 45,000-square-foot Maritime Technology and Training Center once it opens, projected for mid 2015.

“For our new, waterfront maritime campus, we did our homework and traveled across the country to research exactly what we needed to provide in our new facility in order to be certain that we are offering today's maritime professionals the best training available anywhere in the country” said Capt. Mitch Schacter, director of the San Jacinto College maritime program.

The simulators are room-sized replicas of ship control bridges, each with a 270-degree view and life-like graphics displayed on fourteen 65-inch monitors. They are equipped with the newest versions Kongsberg’s Polaris 7.2 ship simulation software. They allow trainees to experience different sea conditions from flat calm water to 30-foot high waves, from zero wind to hurricane winds, from clear blue skies to rain, snow, sleet, fog, and sand storms, and include day and night operations.

"This technology allows trainees from almost any type of vessel to experience wind, current and wave action from any direction and at any level of magnitude as well as close quarters interaction with other vessels operating in the same scenario, without ever putting anyone’s life or property in peril," said Bryan Elliot, maritime instructor and simulator operator. "It provides a very safe and very realistic experience."

The three simulators are currently operating at the San Jacinto College maritime training center off Highway 225 in Pasadena. Once the new Maritime Technology and Training Center is built along the Port of Houston, the simulators will become a part of a 3,748 square-foot simulation suite with instructor stations, debrief classrooms, and development stations.

In addition, the new facility will house engineering simulators to train maritime engineers for hydraulic, electric, pump control, motor control, heating and air conditioning and refrigeration. Also planned is a full-mission engine room simulator, which will be interactive and interconnected with the bridge simulators to allow vessel management exercises to accommodate deck and engineering officers and crew at the same time, in the same scenario.

Other features will include a 2,000 square-foot multipurpose space for industry conferences and corporate partner meetings along with a fully equipped commercial kitchen to support those functions. The entire building will sit 14 feet above ground and will house 15 classrooms, and administrative support offices. The ground level will showcase a training dock with lifeboats, davits, and fast rescue craft, and a separate industry dock for crew changes. It will also allow vessel specific training for local maritime companies and have an aquatic training facility for sea survival and life raft training, complete with men’s and women’s locker rooms.

“The Center will serve as the premier training facility for regional industry and new maritime technology associate degree program," said Schacter. "It will house the very latest technology and U.S. Coast Guard-approved curriculum to allow us to continue and to offer much training for captains, mates, deckhands, tankermen and engineers in a safe, professional and productive training environment."

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