Simulating a world of marine environments
While Newfoundland and Labrador’s Arctic-like conditions are perfect for field-testing, it is within the walls of Memorial University’s Fisheries and Marine Institute (just Marine Institute or MI for short) that the cold, harsh and ice-prone environment can be simulated with an incredible degree of accuracy. MI is home to the most comprehensive suite of marine simulation capabilities in North America, and possibly the world in its Centre for Marine Simulation (CMS).
“The Marine Institute is unique in Canada,” says Glenn Blackwood, Vice President, Memorial University, responsible for the Fisheries and Marine Institute. “We have become Canada’s Marine Institute. We have students from every province in Canada and are the largest producer of seafarers in the country as well as being the only ocean technology-focused school with unique programs in Remotely Operated Vehicles and Ocean Mapping.”
The Marine Institute is certainly well equipped to take on the task. It houses no less than sixteen marine simulators, with a seventeenth soon to be added. The most iconic of these is the Full Mission Full Motion Ship’s Bridge Simulator. Commissioned in 1994 and upgraded in 2006 and 2009, this simulator is used to replicate operations conducted on a ship’s navigation bridge. The simulator is mounted on a six degree of freedom aviation motion base in a surround theatre. It is one of only two full-motion ship’s bridge simulators in the world and can accurately simulate any ship and sea state anywhere in the world.
The Ballast Control and Cargo Handling Simulator is used to replicate operations conducted in the ballast control room of an oil rig. It is mounted on a two degree of freedom motion base and is supplemented by desktop trainers. Float-on/float-off vessels can also be simulated.
CMS also houses three different Dynamic Positioning Simulators with custom-built visualization systems designed by its engineers: the Kongsberg SDP system, the KPOS system, and Converteam’s C-series system. These simulators are used to replicate precision manoeuvering systems that are found on vessels operating in the offshore, scientific, cable-laying, and cruise industries.
Other simulators at CMS include a Navigation and Blind Pilotage simulator, a Propulsion Plan simulator, a Tug simulator, and Small Vessel simulators manufactured in a local company, Virtual Marine Technology (VMT).
VMT was incorporated in 2004 and meets a need in the global market for small vessel simulation. Through VMT, MI now has helicopter, lifeboat launch and fast rescue craft simulators that have answered the need for better safety, survival and emergency preparedness training in the industry.
In addition, ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) simulators were installed in 2008, an extension of the recently developed ROV program in MI’s School of Ocean Technology – the first of its kind in North America. A local company, GRI Simulations Inc., a global leader in ROV simulation, provided the two ROV simulators that currently reside at CMS.
GRI is a Mount Pearl, NL company with a long history of providing support for subsea ROV operations. Established in 1986, GRI began to focus on simulation technology in 1997 to enhance pilot training, mission planning, and rehearsal for offshore operations.
The newest addition to CMS will be the Hibernia Offshore Anchor Handler Simulator, developed specifically for activities relating to offshore oil and gas operations. Funding for this new simulator was provided by the Hibernia Management and Development Company.
Of course, all this simulation technology requires the expertise to utilize it, and MI is training the next wave of ocean experts through its School of Ocean Technology and Centre for Applied Ocean Technology. This school and these centres are committed to developing and delivering education and training programs, and technology to meet the needs of the ocean sector, collaborating with industry in the application of this technology.
By bringing a realm of simulation capabilities together under one roof, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Marine Institute is bringing critical training, testing and knowledge to the marine technology world.