On Wednesday the New York Harbor School christened its new Bridge Simulator at the MAST Center on Governors Island.
Students now have the opportunity to hone their ship handling and navigation skills in the same high-tech virtual environment used by many professionals. The main TRANSAS bridge simulator system is set up in a separate room where five large flat-screen monitors line the walls providing a 160-degree view of the scenario. Four additional smaller stations are set up in an adjacent room, also complete with navigation charts, engine and rudder controls, and radar screens. All five stations are networked allowing, for example, a tanker, tugs and law enforcement vessels to simultaneously function within the same scenario.
Of course I had to try this out first-hand and selected a Coast Guard small boat, as it has similar handling parameters as the boats we operate here at New York Media Boat. Running north at 30 knots from Saint George towards lower Manhattan, the harbor looked strikingly familiar. The buoys, barges and skyline all appeared in perfect detail. I threw some hard turns for good measure and the boat reacted as expected. At times I forgot that I was standing on solid ground and even started feeling a bit nauseous, as we dialed the conditions up and encountered heavy seas heading for Buttermilk Channel.
What an excellent teaching tool to add to the already impressive curriculum Captain Aaron Singh and his team have put together for their students.
The $300,000 system was donated by the American Bureau of Shipping.