Seafarers of the Future: Simulators that Accelerate Training Effectiveness

Simulation overcomes the limitations faced while operating a real-world system and opens up possibilities for trainees to experience different situations.

It is where art meets science, and where minds and machines are interwoven for enriched training and performance optimisation. Recent research shows that scenario-based and outcome-based training bring out the best in individuals.

In the next few paragraphs, we'll be looking at the evolution of the Full Mission Shiphandling Simulator (FMSS), which started as an idea and became reality.

Where It All Began

Back in the early 2000s, opportunities for Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)'s ship crew to train at sea, such as handling unexpected or combat scenarios, were limited due to safety considerations. Training sessions were subjected to the availability of vessels at that time as well.

With Singapore's status as an international maritime hub, coupled with the need for safer navigation in our busy maritime traffic, ST Engineering saw the opportunity for a simulator. There is a need within the training to provide one full-size bridge, that includes operators' consoles, sound system, communication system, networking, high quality of image generation and terrain visualisations, as well as realistic marine traffic simulation.

The project team worked closely with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) to understand their needs while applying the technology and engineering know-how behind these solutions.

Maritime traffic off Singapore waters

Shiphandling Simulator with Full Mission Capabilities Delivered

First Generation: FMSS bridge featuring the coastline of Singapore's Central Business District, 2005

Fast forward to 2005, the Full Mission Shiphandling Simulator (FMSS) was developed.

Featuring one basic simulator with a 270-degree visual system, the FMSS supports ship handling, seamanship, navigation, basic radar operation techniques, and team level training for RSN crew.

ST Engineering integrated ship bridge systems, developed terrain modules, and modeled the simulator after real environments for realistic training. The Shiphandling Simulator (SHS) is able to inject up to 100 modeled objects such as other virtual ships into the training scenario.

“We were the first manufacturer in Asia to be awarded a letter of compliance from Det Norske Veritas (DNV*), attaining a Class A grade for our FMSS,” says Mr Goh Ming Joo, then program manager and currently leading as Vice President of the Naval Business Division from the Training and Simulation Systems business unit.

*DNV is a global consultancy based in Norway that certifies equipment and machinery globally.

Integrated Ship Bridge Training

Second Generation: Shiphandling simulators featuring Marina Bay coastline, 2012

In 2012, the FMSS was enhanced to incorporate a second ship bridge simulator to offer greater training flexibility. These two ship bridges allow standalone training and may be networked together, enabling linked-up training in a single scenario. The system was enhanced with highly realistic scenarios, terrains and could now support up to 150 modeled objects each.

First-of-its-kind Littoral Mission Vessel Simulation Centre

In 2018, two 360-degree Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) simulators were developed to enable ship crew training for the RSN's new LMV Simulation Centre. The centre marks ST Engineering’s first successful integration of navigation, combat and engineering training capabilities, into a single simulation system. The simulators replicate hardware and software found in an actual bridge.

In the Integrated Command Centre of the LMV, a variety of simulations can be generated, including harsh weather conditions, system malfunctions, high traffic density in congested waters, and the presence of enemy ships, reflecting the challenges and different roles undertaken by the crew. Two LMV simulators can be networked together as well, to offer flexibility for fleet training and support up to 700 modeled objects. In addition, a comprehensive After-Action Review (AAR) system facilitates the playback of training scenarios for detailed debriefing sessions.

Practicing berthing with the VR trainer

LMV simulator hall with high-fidelity 360-degree wrap around projection, 2018

Shaping A New Generation of Seafarers

The first of its kind, the LMV Simulation Centre adopts Virtual Reality technology for increased depth perception during training, supporting challenging scenarios such as dealing with small vessels and berthing. The simulator has increased training effectiveness by more than 50% and shortened the training time for sailors. Moving forward, training analytics will be enabled and enhanced for an even greater degree of success.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ang Goon Hwee, Commanding Officer of the simulation centre, said: “With the high-fidelity projection, training can be conducted in harsh and demanding conditions in a risk-free and controlled setting, so that the trainees can focus on honing their skills to achieve higher competency, resulting in more effective training.”

View more information here.

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