In 2016, new International Marine Organization [IMO] certification standards will kick in for Arctic ship operators.
Anything north of latitude 60 is considered the Arctic. That means most of Alaska, and the training can be used in all areas – for Cook Inlet oil rigs and Valdez Arm tanker traffic for example. But the far North is a different story. North of the Arctic Circle there are few aids to navigation. Floating and coastal aids are seasonal, charts are not the most accurate and the only real time weather info comes from weather stations at Nome or Red Dog Mine. Navigators there need a specialized background.
AVTEC, Alaska’s institute of technology has invested in simulators to train these new specialized navigators.
Mike Angove, is the simulator engineer at AVTEC. He says the simulators are Norwegian built, at a cost of $2. 5 million.
“They are the top of the line, they are the best in the world, because they got the mathematics correct. It’s what makes our simulators special when compared with other simulators.”
The school has put one million dollars into them since acquiring the simulators, and is looking for further support from the industry. They can be used by individuals, but they can handle groups of 18 at a time for interactive sessions
“We have three full mission bridges that can work interactively in the same exercise. Meaning that, for example, one can be the ship, say an oil tanker and the two others can be tug boats, and we can put hausers or lines between the tug boats and the ship and have an interactive exercise of tug escorg maneuvers and certain maneuvers that are difficult, dangerous and expensive to perform in real life.”
Inside the simulators it’s like a real experience at the helm. Computer programs change the view outside from day to night, or from calm to choppy seas and an operator has to meet maneuvering challenges to avoid obstacles of all kinds. The simulators can mimic conditions at all of the state’s largest ports. Inside, Hamilton brings the simulated ship to the Valdez oil terminal.
Read the full story at KSKA: AVTEC To Offer Nation’s First Ice Navigation Course