RECREATING OFFSHORE CONDITIONS IN A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Arwin den Ouden
Simulator training is an effective way to supplement real-life training programmes. Aimed at offshore wind crew transfer operators, 360 Control is a simulator training centre that prepares captains and driving mates for different scenarios and manoeuvres – even in extreme conditions. Damen Offshore Wind Journal went to IJmuiden, the Netherlands, to talk to Managing Director Arwin den Ouden to learn about the advantages of simulator training and the importance of data.
Can you introduce the reader to 360 Control?
We developed this simulator training facility for tugs, offshore support and fast crew supply vessels. As the name suggests, our simulator has a 360 degree outside view – giving a very realistic scenario. We can set up training programmes with various vessels. For the offshore wind sector, we have a crew transfer setup using a Damen Fast Crew Supplier (FCS) 2610.
What does a typical training programme cover?
We start off with ship handling techniques. Once a trainee has the [simulated] vessel fully under control we start with other situations such as specific logistical scenarios. For example, we have recreated the harbour entrance at IJmuiden and the entire Port of Rotterdam. In fact, in close cooperation with our software provider, we can recreate any port or coastal environment in the world. Our basic one-week ship handling course can familiarise a captain with an FCS 2610 within one week.
How do you tailor the programme for the offshore wind sector?
Our database contains various wind farm areas – including data about depth and predominant currents, wave and wind speeds. With this, we can recreate different scenarios – even extreme weather conditions. And then there are scenarios of different manoeuvres relevant to offshore wind operators. Crew transfers: ship-to-monopile and ship-to-ship, mooring and unmooring are all included. Man overboard and communication training too.
How important is accurate data?
Well, the more data you have, the more realistic the simulation. This is not a video game – the simulator has to be 1-to-1 realistic to real life to reach the standards required. To improve on this, we perform test runs with experienced captains and use their feedback on how the vessel reacts. And then of course you need the experience of the shipyard – our cooperative relationship with Damen means that we can implement their data from sea trials into our software to achieve even more realistic results.
Who uses your training programmes?
Our training programmes focus on captains and driving mates. Furthermore, we can also perform assessments of crew members: we can really see if someone has the skills and the talent to become a driving mate or captain. And of course if things go wrong, it’s just a click on the mouse and you can start again.
How does simulator training fit in with the big picture?
Simulator training can significantly shorten training times: this is because we can include so many different scenarios. This is not possible with on board situations because it’s so time consuming and can cause vessel damage. Looking at our experience with harbour-based tug training, a captain can be trained in a matter of months instead of years. Real-life training is also important though: you can practice taking penalties on the training field all week, but on Saturday afternoon when the stadium is full you still have to get it past the keeper. Combining the two is key – it’s important to put into practice what you have learnt on the simulator. Then we get the best results.