A $2-million investment has paid for upgrades at a B.C. Ferries terminal building on Vancouver Island, converting it into a state-of-the-art training facility.
Screens, displays, computers and modern control panels are now set up at Departure Bay ferry terminal in Nanaimo and members of the media were given a tour Wednesday, May 10.
Malcolm Rodger, B.C. Ferries’ manager of simulation training and an instructor, said the set-up makes for a better educational experience. The equipment simulates real-world marine situations as much as possible, even providing a sensation of a rocking vessel. However, there are no vibrating floors or mist spraying and it’s all visual.
“The maps were built with pictures, digitalization and specific requests from B.C. Ferries. Things are in the right place and things are to scale…” Rodger said. “Is it perfect? It’s not meant to be perfect, it’s meant to be in the likeness, but it’s very good.”
Robin Grypma, B.C. Ferries’ senior manager of bridge simulation, worked in the fleet for 10 years and has been training people for the last six. The new simulator is impressive, she said, and “night and day” compared to the equipment used when she was coming up. The previous simulator, while excellent, was outdated after 12 years, she said.
“The models themselves, they’re all hydro-dynamically developed, so they respond much more efficiently and with more response in this new simulator,” said Grypma. “The visuals are a thousand times better. The equipment we’ve installed … is actually what’s on board. We replicate [what’s] onboard so there’s less training about how to use equipment and more training with how to respond to emergencies.”
Training facilities at Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay are no longer being used, making the Nanaimo facility “the focus,” said Rodger.
“It’s central to the fleet, central to travel, central to the bulk of the crew,” he said.