With 3,500 Faroese ship’s officers due for qualification updates in line with amendments to IMO standard requirements, the VH nautical school steps up training activities, increasingly using state-of-the-art simulation technology.
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Vinnuháskúlin (VH), also known as the Centre of Maritime Studies & Engineering, has ramped up its efforts to meet increasing demand for its training programs and courses. The Tórshavn-based nautical school has set out to modernize existing programs while adding new courses as well as investing in new simulation equipment to improve time efficiency and cost effectiveness across the spectrum of training.
In the context of the need to save time and other resources while retaining and further developing the quality of the training, the adoption of new simulation technology is proving indispensable, according to VH managing director Wilhelm E. Petersen.
Since he took the helm in December 2013, the organization of the school and part of the training content has been brought more in line with international standards, in part by aligning with official recommendations issued by the Danish Maritime Authority. “We are placing heavy emphasis on development of existing and new training programs and courses,” Mr. Petersen said. “The general idea is to make sure the school stays contemporary and relevant in the face of change in its business environment. In this connection, technology is essential to a whole lot of issues and processes—including when it comes to creating value that is in demand internationally and maintaining the highest standards of training.”
One of the recurring challenges is making sure the training is experienced by the trainees as meaningful and modern. The use of state-of-the-art simulators for a range of settings has become integral to all of the programs and most of the courses, both on the navigational side and on the engineering track. “Relative to our own budget we have invested heavily in the latest simulation technology,” Mr. Petersen said. “We have also been fortunate to receive donations from corporations who work in the energy and maritime industries. For example, Statoil recently donated a top-notch engine room simulator, which is now being used extensively, in particular for the engineering classes. We also have an advanced bridge simulator, for example, which is being used for the entire range of navigational training classes.”
‘A pretty clear picture’
The navigation officer training programs were recently overhauled and made to match international standards more fully, in particular with regard to required seafaring experience, which has been reduced from 36 months of generic seafaring to 12 months of seafaring as specified in close collaboration with the nautical school.
As for marine engineering, the six months of required seafaring experience remains unchanged; however, Mr. Petersen said, training programs will be made to match international standards more closely when it comes to timing and integration between training and seafaring experience.
Part of the reason for the current spike in demand for VH courses has to do with qualification requirements as applicable for navigation officers and marine engineers trained prior to 2006. To comply with the International Maritime Organization’s STCW 2010 (Manila Amendments) convention, these ship’s officers are required to undertake additional training in order to hold the requisite certification.
“We are talking about a total 3,500 certificates or thereabouts that will need to be updated before the end of this year ,” Mr. Petersen said. “More than half of the updates have been completed and the remainder will have to be completed within the coming months. It’s basically for Manila Convention compliance for training undergone before its implementation, and the subjects of training concerned are largely related to safety at sea and the use of modern technology.”
The pressure of managing this amount of training activity within such a short span of time means that VH, together with the nautical school in Klaksvík, has had to increase both the supply of courses and the frequency of sessions.
The virtual environment created in the latest generation of simulators is considered to reflect real-life situations sufficiently to make the costly use of real equipment for training purposes unnecessary in many cases, saving serious amounts of money and time previously spent on arranging trips and preparing machinery, invariably involving extra personnel.
“Take the new medical doll we acquired recently. It’s for basic medical training, which is one of the requisite qualifications for being a skipper. A doll is not a live person but this gives a pretty clear picture of how to respond to medical emergencies and what to do in such a situation. This is obviously a very effective tool for the purpose of simulating emergencies of this type.”
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