Real image of laden container ship

BMT conducted a manoeuvring and navigation risk study to assess the impact of the introduction of new and larger tonnage.

REMBRANDT software 3D simulated image of laden containership

Using photographic information provided by the client, BMT was able to create a very realistic scene which adds significant value to the simulation.

Head shot of Paul Morter, Master Mariner and simulation team lead at BMT ARGOSS
Paul Morter

Paul Morter is a Master Mariner who leads the ship manoeuvring simulation team at BMT ARGOSS. Following a 15 year career at sea he has worked ashore in operational and safety related roles and has written safety management systems for shipping companies during the initial introduction of the ISM Code. Paul’s business development role at BMT ARGOSS includes expanding the scope and capabilities of its ship manoeuvring and navigation risk assessment simulator REMBRANDT.

For a learner driver, the first few times behind the wheel can be very daunting. Taking control of a car that is four metres long and two metres wide and will stop from 20mph (17knots) in 12 metres should really focus the mind. Now just imagine taking control of a container ship for the first time: 366m long, 49m wide and with a stopping distance and turning circle measured in nautical miles. Not surprisingly, for reasons of cost and safety, officers and crew responsible for such leviathans of the sea cannot have the luxury of a dedicated sea-going vessel to undertake their initial instruction and any refresher training that is required. While familiarity and awareness training on a ship at sea is a key part of the process, the majority of a junior officer’s ‘bridge time’ will be spent working with a simulator.

Realistic training for the PlayStation generation However for the simulator experience to be of value it must provide the trainee with all the information that is available on a fully operational ship at sea. The simulated vessel must behave exactly as the real-world version would when under power or under tow. Wind and wave conditions and their effect on the vessel must be modelled accurately as must the physical characteristics of ports and harbours. BMT’s offering in this market is REMBRANDT, a real-time ship-handling and manoeuvring simulator which is PC based and designed for a standard Windows interface, making it particularly user friendly. Potential users are coming more and more from the X-Box / PlayStation generation which has grown up with high-resolution graphics as the norm. Consequently there is an expectation that simulations should have a look and feel and deliver the same feeling of ‘virtual reality’ as in a video game. Customers buy with their eyes as well as technological capability.

Going the extra mile to deliver accuracy REMBRANDT has provided accurate simulations for hundreds of ship and port combinations over the last 20 years. It has been developed to allow the user to operate and interact with high fidelity ship models from bulk carriers to mega-yachts that include over 750 performance parameters, ensuring that the user experiences identical ship to ship interaction, ship to bank interaction, squat and shallow water effects as the real ship would in the same conditions. Each ship model is fully validated. Firstly, the team prepares a mathematical model which is validated based on sea trials, the results of model tests and information from BMT’s extensive ship manoeuvring database. Next the ship model is evaluated by someone who is familiar with the handling of the actual vessel, such as a master or pilot. The parameters are then adjusted to ensure that the performance of every ship model is indistinguishable from that of the real ship.

Using BMT’s metocean expertise, REMBRANDT allows users to load any port with tidal current and wind data to accurately represent the unique features of each location.

Delivering more than training REMBRANDT can also run in multi-user mode which enables multiple vessels to operate in a single operational scenario, each with independent human control making it a powerful and effective training tool. Simulations can be replayed in video format with track plots and data information printed or saved electronically, providing a very structured training regime.

However the accuracy of the simulation has created opportunities beyond the training of ship’s crew and pilots. By running REMBRANDT with an experienced crew, the simulation can be used to identify, assess and prioritise risk mitigation for port authorities in a safe and controlled environment. This helps to design safe operating procedures, limit design errors and potentially avoid expensive re-building or lowering of capabilities.

Modelling as a diagnostic tool REMBRANDT can also be used as a diagnostic tool for the in-depth investigation of casualties to support legal cases and define mitigating measures. BMT has formed a Collision Reconstruction Team which is able to accurately recreate specific incidents involving collisions in order to identify the root cause and any lessons that can be learned. The simulation uses regional Automatic Identification System (AIS) information and shipboard Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) data taken from the vessels involved to produce a meaningful three-dimensional representation. Simulation, combined with the skilful analysis of maritime experts, provides a cost effective and safe approach to assist in the prevention of marine collisions and casualties. The resulting incident reconstruction can be used to identify failings and create an impartial appraisal of how and why an incident has occurred. Once the root cause is determined the first steps towards future prevention can be implemented. This knowledge, together with liaison with the client, can produce a range of “what if” scenarios that can be thoroughly investigated and evaluated to produce specific training needs, valuable lessons and operational policies and procedures.

The results of simulation analysis in both narrative and visual form can be used within the legal domain but, more importantly, they can be used to enforce the necessary training requirements to reduce the risk of recurrence, lead to the development of safety and promote pollution prevention which ultimately can support the industry from within.

BMT conducted a manoeuvring and navigation risk study to assess the impact of the introduction of new and larger tonnage.

Using photographic information provided by the client, BMT was able to create a very realistic scene which adds significant value to the simulation.

Paul Morter

Paul Morter is a Master Mariner who leads the ship manoeuvring simulation team at BMT ARGOSS. Following a 15 year career at sea he has worked ashore in operational and safety related roles and has written safety management systems for shipping companies during the initial introduction of the ISM Code. Paul’s business development role at BMT ARGOSS includes expanding the scope and capabilities of its ship manoeuvring and navigation risk assessment simulator REMBRANDT.