With the training of seafarers being so important to safety at sea, and in particular navigation equipment and bridge procedures, I was pleased to read that the president of the UK Chamber of Shipping, Sir Michael Bibby, had recently opened the largest ship simulation centre in the UK at Solent University in Southampton.
My first experience of simulators in the marine industry was at the Nautical College, in Byrom Street, Liverpool, when I attended a radar simulator course there in the early 1970s. But it would be almost another two decades before I remember them being used for other purposes and, fi rstly in my case, as a tool in assessing vessel suitability for various routes. I think it is fair to say, that for such purposes at that time they were very much in their infancy and trailed a long way back from those in use in the aviation industry. But, such has been the development and advances in technology over the years, the ship simulators can now be compared favourably with those used by airlines, with all the Maritime Training Centres in the UK which specialise in such equipment now delivering an extremely high level of training and tuition. Speaking at the opening ceremony Sir Michael said:
“Today is not just the opening of a new state-of-theart development. As exciting as that is. It’s the beginning of the next chapter in the history of Southampton as an extraordinary maritime centre.
“With Southampton port being busier than ever with cruise, container and other traffic it is easy to forget that shipping does not have the same profi le in the rest of the country, the governments adoption of the Maritime 2050 strategy to keep us as a great maritime nation going forward is therefore critical.”
He made an impassioned pitch in favour of building major port towns and cities into maritime clusters as a way of boosting the national economy.
“Maritime 2050 is looking to build world leading clusters of expertise in the UK in target areas from autonomous shipping to green fuels and combine government sponsorship with the talents of our shipowners, ports, service industries, academia and professional services. It is therefore a really important time for the university to be investing in new state of the art training.
“This is the model by which we will win new investment and encourage UK entrepreneurs to see opportunity in the maritime space. It’s the way we will create new jobs and grow the economy. It’s the way we will decarbonise and improve our environmental record. But it’s also the way we will create a safer work environment for our seafarers.