The Port of London Authority (PLA) has invested £250,000 (US$366,015) to upgrade its ship bridge simulator suite. It has added a full tug bridge simulator in reaction to the expected rise in port trade and terminal expansion. PLA has used its existing bridge simulator to train pilots that guide ships along the Thames.
However, it decided to invest in a new simulator and recruit 12 new pilots to facilitate increased traffic on the Thames, which has risen to more than 45 million tonnes of cargo a year. In addition to its core role in PLA pilot training, the simulator is also used for coaching pilotage exemption certificate holders and for specialist training of senior officers from shipping companies, tug masters and pilots from other port authorities.
“This upgrade integrates the latest hydrographic modelling, allowing trainees to learn the characteristics of the Thames from the North Sea right through to central London,” said PLA marine operations director Peter Steen. “It gives pilots the chance to experience all kinds of ships from tankers to container ships, cruise ships to car carriers, before they go on-board and operate them for real.” He said the facility includes an interactive tug simulator for training of large ship manoeuvring in the PLA area.
Terminal operators plan to invest more than £1 billion in their operations over the next five years, several looking at handling larger ships. The new simulator can be used for research and development purposes, to check proposed new berth plans and to demonstrate how new ships will be handled on the Thames, Mr Steen said.