Becoming a dedicated centre of excellence for tug and offshore vessel simulation and training is the ambition of IJmuiden-based 360-Control, a newly founded independent private company with two shareholders: Iskes Towage & Salvage and Damen Shipyards. 360-Control general manager Menthe de Jong: ”As such a high-level simulator is unique – there are only a few comparable simulators in the world, but mostly not with a 360-degree outside view- we believe there surely is a market for our simulator training.”
De Jong is speaking of the 360-degree NAUTIS Full Mission Tug and Offshore Supply Vessel (OSV) simulator, that was delivered by Dutch VSTEP. The simulator is identical in size and set-up to the 2810 and 3212 tugs by Damen, which are the bestsellers of the shipyard and the tugs that are also used by Iskes, but it can be used for training on other tugs with azimuthing thrusters as well. Next to that, a 240-degree NAUTIS Desktop Trainer is used for groups up to five persons. De Jong: ”As we do not want our trainees to have to wait too long, we work in small groups, with a maximum of two people on our 360-degree simulator, a maximum of two people on our desk top simulator and one person as observer. Every trainee should be kept busy at all times.” The 360-degree simulator consists of LED monitors with clear screens and is tailor-made, with a standard NAUTIS tug and offshore package. The bridge does not consist of standard consoles, but is an exact replica of the bridges used in the Damen tugs. De Jong: ”We really want to simulate the reality as much as possible.”
The tug simulator training centre is a longtime wish from the directors of Iskes Towage & Salvage, firstly to train new crew, as the simulator will decrease the time needed to train new masters and chief officers compared to training on-the-job, as tug operators do now. Moreover, the simulator is a tool to train emergency situations and to sail under difficult circumstances such as heavy winds and dense fog. Also Damen Shipyards was already thinking of getting an own simulator for tug training, as the shipyard offers crew training when a tug is sold, which was up until now outsourced. Therefore the two companies joined forces to realise their idea.
Operating an ASD tug is different from operating a tug with, for example, conventional or Voith Schneider propulsion, explains De Jong: ”Operating an ASD tug requires another way of thinking regarding controlling. Being at sea, it is important to be able to operate the tug automatically and react very quickly; with a simulator, crew can learn to do so. There are two courses, a basic course that helps crew to get to know the system and teaches them how to manoeuvre, and an advanced course, that teaches the trainees several assisting methods and situational awareness. We can teach our trainees several methods how to operate an ASD tug and give them insights, but how to really navigate and manoeuvre is something you learn by doing it, just like driving a car. After the training, the participants receive a certificate, if required by the client, after passing an exam. Instructors are hired externally, with the condition that they have passed the didactical training at the NOVA College.”
Simulated and in real life
The training not only consists of training with the simulator, but participants also have the possibility to train on board of Iskes tugs, so they can experience the real operational side. Next to internal training for Iskes and Damen clients, the centre will also be used by external parties. De Jong is convinced that it will be a success: ”Our simulator feels very real, which is extremely important to be effective, especially with the unique combination of reallife training. Our mission is to make sure that our trainees find all aspects of the training an excellent experience, good coffee and a good lunch is as important as a good training.” The first two courses took place already, one with four people from Ghana and one with three people from Cyprus, both because their companies bought a Damen ASD tug. Another service 360-Control offers, is the possibility to conduct assessments.
360-Control is very ambitious; although the centre is only open for a short while, expansion with another 360-degree Full Mission Tug Simulator is already planned. ”The cooperation with VSTEP went smoothly,” says De Jong, ”and we are discovering the possibility to expand our centre with at least one more 360-degree simulator in the course of 2014 to simulate also for example Damen Offshore Supply Vessels and the Damen Fast Crew Suppliers. We are in the conceptual phase of a simulator with a flexible bridge to be able to serve our clients in the best way possible.”
Gail van den Hanenberg