Maritime & Coastguard Agency approves new simulator training experience for seafarers

A new simulation experience for seafarers (Image courtesy of Solent University).

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has approved a new simulator programme, which will give sea cadets a chance to get some of their training online.

Working closely with the maritime industry, including the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the MCA has played a key role in both developing and supporting a full mission bridge simulator. It gives cadets the chance to get a proper understanding of what real life is like onboard the bridge of a vessel.

The course, which will be run by MCA-approved Maritime Colleges permitted to use the bridge watchkeeping skills simulator, is credited towards the seagoing service requirements. It will also provide cadets with a decision-making environment that may not be available in ‘real-time’ on a ship, especially in cases of high traffic density and restricted visibility.

This training experience is available for maritime cadets to use in lieu of up to two months’ sea service on-board vessels; with the aim of enhancing all-round safety and the protection of the marine environment – which is at least the equivalent to the requirements of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Convention.

Katy Ware, Director of Maritime Safety and Standards at the MCA, said, “The training of seafarers needs to be in line with the rapid technological advancement and changes in the maritime sector. Simulator training is a fantastic opportunity and is a really valuable way for cadets to learn in a real-time environment and acquire the very best skills to prepare them for life in the industry as officers on-board vessels.”

The MCA is using the provisions of Article IX of the STCW Convention to allow for the following training equivalence; which includes: five days in a full mission bridge simulator for 15 days of seagoing service and 10 days in a full mission bridge simulator for 30 days of seagoing service.

The program will be reviewed after one year and, if successful, will be extended to include 20 days in a full mission bridge simulator in lieu of up to 60 days of seagoing service.

The MCA has also agreed on a phased approach for expanding this training experience and will accept proposals from the UK Maritime Colleges to get involved with the five-day simulator training, in line with Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) training guidelines.