Solent University opens largest simulator facility in the UK

Testing new simulator facility. Credit: Warsash

Southampton’s Solent University claims it now has the largest and most sophisticated simulator facility in the UK.

Its Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering maritime simulation centre was opened by Michael Bibby, president of the UK Chamber of Shipping, on 21 May.

The centre is part of an investment programme in maritime education and training, costing more than GBP43 million (USD56 million). This involves moving most of the nautical teaching facilities from its Warsash site to the university’s main campus in Southampton.

According to Lars Lippuner, the school’s head of commercial operations, the new centre includes the latest equipment and software from Wärtsilä including: eight full-mission bridge simulators; more than 50 part task simulators; a full-mission engineering room simulator; high-voltage simulators; liquid cargo simulators; onshore and offshore crane simulators; Global Maritime Distress Safety System, radio communications, and Vendor Test Suites (VTS); dynamic positioning (DP) simulators; and four multipurpose desktop simulation classrooms.

Lippuner said it would also offer the opportunity for several new specialist training courses, such as DP, vessel traffic management, and ice navigation.

All simulators and classrooms will be networked for joint exercises between bridge and engine compartments, or ship and shore. The simulation centre will also feature hundreds of ship models, which will be used by cadets and maritime professionals alike.

Lippuner told SAS, “We will use the increased capacity from the new simulation centre to provide our cadets with insights into additional aspects of the maritime environment, such as DP, and insight into VTS or even crane operations. In the long term, it’s quite likely that the amount of time cadets will spend in simulators will increase, as ships become more and more technologically advanced.”

The centre has been designed with the future in mind and features a virtual shipyard that is able to create ‘digital twins’ of existing ships or ships under design or construction. “This allows officers to train in a virtual environment that mirrors their own workplace, further enhancing the experience,” explained Lippuner.

The new maritime simulation centre is also intended play a pivotal role in the university’s maritime research, including navigational safety and human-machine interaction.