In December 2019 FleetMon was invited to visit the Maritime Simulation Center Warnemünde (MSCW). The Maritime Simulation Center Warnemünde (MSCW) is part of the Department of Maritime Studies and a mandatory part of every maritime seagoing personnel education offered at the University of Applied Sciences, Technology, Business and Design in Wismar (Hochschule Wismar). Being located in Rostock Warnemünde, the center is not too far from the FleetMon headquarter. It is part of our FleetMon DNA to widen our horizons and strive for maritime expertise. For that reason, we like to organize team events and excursions on a regular basis. Besides that, it is always a lot of fun to spend some time with colleagues outside of the office.
Maritime Simulation Center Warnemünde
The Maritime Simulation Centre is the only one worldwide combining the simulation of nautical and technical vessel operations and a shore-based vessel traffic services simulator system. Four different simulator systems are to be found inside the center: A Ship Handling Simulator, a Ship Engine Simulator, a Vessel Traffic Services Simulator, and a Ship Safety & Security Trainer. The MSCW was built for education and training of the maritime seagoing personnel (e.g. nautical officers) and provides an excellent basis for research and development. We were especially interested to visit the Ship Handling Simulator and the Vessel Traffic Services Simulator.
Ship Handling Simulator (SHS)
The ship’s command simulator consists of a total of four simulated ship bridges, including the visual simulation. Bridge 1 is a full-mission bridge with the appropriate bridge equipment and a 360° all-round view. Bridge 2 offers a 270° view and bridges 3 and 4 a foresight. The trainees can steer their own ships on each bridge. Of course, we tried as well. Pretending to steer a huge cargo vessel through the seaport of Rostock was a lot of fun. Heavy weather conditions like storms and pouring rain can be simulated as well as darkness at night and different scenarios of incoming traffic. The 360° all-round view of bridge 1 was very impressive and it really felt like being on board a huge cargo vessel.
The vessels and the associated sea area are loaded from the SHS instructor room. The instructor has an influence on the environmental conditions (swell, current, wind, etc.) and can simulate malfunctions in ship operation e.g. failed navigation devices and errors in the machine system. Exercises are evaluated afterward in the follow-up room. Every action of the trainees can be tracked there in the exercise record. In instructor-free training, the trainees can use the equipment independently and control a ship in the selected sea area, too. The specialists at the MSCW develop new 3D ship models and not yet available 3D sea areas or revise them according to the requirements of the client (e.g. shipowners).
Vessel Traffic Services Simulator (VTSS)
The VTSS is used to practice the operation of traffic control centers (Vessel Traffic Services) under nearly real conditions. Traffic control centers are used for monitoring and control of maritime traffic. Up to three traffic centers can be simulated in the respective areas with a simulated traffic situation and different environmental conditions. The instructor not only needs great nautical and technical knowledge but also some acting talent. He simulates the communication of vessels in the area and all shore-based communication of the vessel traffic services. He monitors the actions of the individual bridge crews via control monitors. Generic interfaces are used to represent the essential functionality of the traffic control centers (e.g. the tracking of destinations, ship data processing). The training includes the recording of a situation, its evaluation, decision-making and interventions in terms of shipping traffic. One focus of the training is practicing effective communication between a vessel and the traffic control center since this is important to prevent future maritime accidents.
Through the trip, we learned more about how AIS signals are encoded and how the signals are visualized on the respective equipment used by the vessel traffic services and onboard the vessel itself. We gained insights into the education of future nautical engineers and related nautical and maritime professions. Besides trying out the different simulators, we had a chance to go up the tower and have a look at the huge AIS antenna and the sonar equipment of the Department of Maritime Studies.
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