A new simulation training center for cruise ship captains and officers opened Monday at the Resolve Maritime Academy in Fort Lauderdale.
The 7,000-square-feet center at 1510 SE 17 St. cost $6.5 million to build and will offer safety and navigational programs specifically tailored to the needs of the world’s second largest cruise operator.
“The intention is to create situations that truly test the individual, how they deal with unpredictable situations and handle stress,” said Captain Bill Wright, senior vice president marine operations at Royal Caribbean International, during a tour on Monday. “They are put into situations that are completely realistic.”
Last year Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. tapped the maritime academy to be its exclusive provider of all simulator-based training.
More than 8,500 of its crew members have received shipboard-firefighting instruction at the academy.
The two-year project comes at a time when cruise ship safety is under a microscope due to the Costa Concordia’s capsizing off Italy in mid-January.
Captain error has been blamed for the incident that claimed at least 25 lives.
Ship personnel from three brands of the cruise operator’s brands — Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises — will undergo training at the simulation center.
The instruction will be a refresher course for already-skilled bridge personnel to learn how to work together as a team under a variety of conditions, Wright said.
It’s also an opportunity for maritime officers to understand the capabilities and limitations of the shipboard technologies they are provided with, he added.
The simulation center has a cutting-edge full mission bridge simulator and an electronic chart display and information system classroom and navigation laboratory with several “mini” bridges.
The facility, which Royal Caribbean officials called “one of the world’s most advanced ship simulators”, is equipped with the same technologies that are found onboard its ships.
Initial courses will include bridge resource management, electronic chart display and operational use of navigation and radar systems, among others.
“Our No. 1 priority is to teach people safe navigation,” said Rod Von Achen, a Resolve course instructor during a demonstration of the Electronic Chart Display and Information System or ECDIS.
The computerized chart system provides precise information on a ship’s position, which makes it easier to navigate and improves safety at sea.
Still Von Achen said mariners are taught not to rely solely on the computer, but should verify conditions by “looking out the window” if necessary to double-check accuracy.
Ship crew using the simulator will face a range of scenarios to test their technical and team work skills.
The main bridge simulator for example has more than 100 different ports or areas in its database as well as 50 different ship types, Resolve Technical Manager for Simulation Greg Wood said.
The first simulation training class is set for April 30.
The maritime academy is a subsidiary of Resolve Marine Group (RMG), an industry specialist in marine salvage, wreck removal, fire-fighting and emergency response. The company recently submitted a bid on wreak removal of the Costa Concordia.