San Jacinto College will acquire three interactive bridge simulators for professional mariner training thanks to a collaborative agreement with the Houston Pilots.
The simulators, valued at approximately $1.5 million, are room-sized replicas of ship control bridges, each with a 270-degree view and life-like graphics displayed on multiple 65-inch monitors. They will come complete with instructor stations, debrief classrooms and development stations.
"Everyone benefits from these simulators and maritime training; in turn, making the ship channel safer for marine navigation," said Capt. Robert Thompson, presiding officer of the Houston Pilots. "Pilots will be able to use the simulators for research, while students, both mariners and mariners to be, can use them for training."
Previously, the Houston Pilots often traveled the globe for such training. By having bridge simulators available locally, they are able to customize the system to exact specifications required for the very unique conditions in the Houston Ship Channel. Capt. Mitch Schacter, director of the San Jacinto College maritime program, noted how bridge simulator training varies regionally.
“These simulators will have the ability to accurately represent ships at a slow speed, navigating through a very narrow channel, very shallow water environment that our pilots must deal with in the Houston Ship Channel on a daily basis," said Schacter.
Schacter said the three bridge simulators will first be installed at the College's Maritime and Technical Training Center along Highway 225 in Pasadena. They will then be relocated to the College's new waterfront maritime facility along the Port of Houston, which is scheduled to open in 2015.