Port Authority buys simulator to train tugmasters and pilots

Mar 19, 2003
Author: P&S

The National Port Authority of South Africa (NPA) says it will shortly install a state-of-the-art ship-handling simulator for the training of marine pilots and tugmasters at the Durban-based Port Academy.

The R10 million simulator will be used to train marine pilots and tugmasters to the highest international standards, it claims. Until now this training has been achieved by sending candidates to Rotterdam for training both on a simulator and in that port.

Mr Ivan Bandle, the Port Academy’s manager for marine and technical training, said training in the ship-handling simulator should start at the end of May. The academy expects the Class A simulator, with a 240 degree outside vision, to arrive at its premises in April.

The simulator is being constructed in Norway and will accelerate the training of marine pilots and tugboat masters who previously had to spend a number of years at sea. The acquisition of the asset has become critical because many marine pilots and tugboat officers in the service of the NPA are either nearing retirement or have left the service.

The simulator provides the look and feel of a real bridge of a ship at sea and is complemented by a global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS), engine room simulator and a cargo-handling simulator for tanker operations.

“It will be used for the training of pilots, tugmasters, merchant marine officers, cadets, engineers and cargo handling staff according to the highest international standards of training, certification and watchkeeping (STCW) requirements,” said Bandle.

According to the NPA the simulator will be beneficial in reducing accidents at sea and will reduce the time required for the training of deck and engineering personnel. Bandle says this will not only benefit the NPA but will also be available to other shipping companies. African countries would find it particularly useful.

“In the past we had to send trainees to the Port Academy and Shipping Transport College (STC) in Rotterdam. It was an expensive exercise and was unsustainable.”

A co-operation agreement between the Port Academy and the STC in Rotterdam made it possible to acquire the simulator. The agreement with the STC allows the NPA to make use of STC’s expertise and to rely on them for the maintenance of the simulator and also their extensive knowledge in the training market.

According to Donald Kau, a spokesman for the NPA, the maritime transport sector is growing in terms of the numbers of ships being handled. “We have an increasing need for well educated and trained maritime officers and engineers. The NPA and similar organisations urgently need a maritime simulation training centre in Southern Africa and the simulator will benefit the core activities of the NPA, which can be described as securing a high quality and high safety profile for the authority.”

He added that many African countries along the coastline of the continent needed skilled pilots and tugmasters and there were hardly any training providers available. A maritime simulation centre in this part of the world would therefore be of great benefit to them.

Note: The Port Academy of South Africa, formerly known as the Portnet Academy, was established in Durban as the in-house training provider for the then Portnet (now NPA).

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