Using Simulation to
Train Merchant
Northwestern Michigan College
1701 E Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49686-3061
1-800-748-0566, Extension 1200
* Seven Maritime Academies
* One federal and six state
* All are regulated by the US Maritime
Administration (MARAD)
* All fall under 46 CFR Subchapter 310
* Numerous other facilities, both public and
* If operating with federal aid:
* Uniforms
* Regulations
* Must take, and pass license
* Must admit out of state students at in state
rate (to at least 10% on incoming class)
* Established by the Merchant Marine Act of 1936
* One of five Federal Service Academies
* All Midshipmen in the regiment, age/ physical
requirements similar to other service
* Passing of license a pre-requisite for graduation
Bronx, NY
* Located in the Bronx, NY
* Founded in 1874 aboard Training Ship St. Mary
* Became land based in 1934, one of the last
acts by then NY Governor Franklin Roosevelt.
* Enrollment consists of: non regiment students
in a non license curriculum; regimented
students in a non licensed curriculum;
regimented students in a licensed curriculum.
* Similar to NY as it began as an institution
located aboard a training ship (1891) and
moved to a shore based facility in 1936.
* Currently located in Buzzard’s Bay, MA.
* All cadets are in the regiment (I believe), but
not all are in a curriculum that will lead to a
* Established by California in 1929
* Funding stabilized after passage of the
Merchant Marine Act of 1936
* Located in Vallejo, CA
* Currently part of the California State University
* Only Maritime Academy on the west coast
* Student model similar to SUNY Maritime
* One of only three State Academies with Naval
ROTC (others being NY and TX)
* Established by Maine Legislature in 1941
* The only entity in zip code 04420
* Currently located in Castine, ME
* Also has regimented/ non regimented and
licensed/ non licensed programs
* A division of Texas A&M
* Established in 1962
* Located in Galveston, TX
* Graduates are considered “Aggies” and are
authorized to wear the TX A&M ring same as
graduates of the College Station, TX campus
Great Lakes Maritime Academy
* A division of Northwestern Michigan College.
* The 1st Community College in Michigan to
award a Bachelor’s Degree (January 2014).
* Degree was: Bachelor’s of Science Maritime
* Michigan law enacted in Dec 2012 authorized
Community Colleges to award Bachelor’s
Degrees in four disciplines:
Technology, Energy Production, Culinary, and
Cement Technology.
* Cost: cost of operating an “unlimited tonnage”
vessel can exceed $50K per day.
* Other than electricity required to operate the
simulator, heat, lights, it is “green.”
* A cadet can experience limitless weather/ sea state
scenarios over the course of a semester. If
underway on a vessel he/ she may/ may not
experience these; he/ she certainly would not be in
charge of a bridge watch on a commercial vessel (as
a cadet) during these times.
*Why do we use
* Habit transfer:
learn and develop the skills
you’ll need when at sea, in a safe
* Prototype new procedures:
LNG tanks,
weapons, night vision goggles, anti-piracy
* Develop the operating envelope.
* Build confidence!
* When a cadet transitions from the simulator, to
the training ship, when he/ she is docking the
ship, for real, the first time, they’ll be on the
bridge with the same instructors they were
with in the simulator.
* “You can do this, you've done it before!”
* Accident review and reconstruction.
* The vast majority of major marine casualties
are due to human error.
* In a simulator we can place a cadet in the
same operating environment as Exxon Valdez,
Esso Sea Witch, S/S Stockholm, or in scenarios
that we know will challenge the cadet and
there is a 100% chance they’ll encounter after
graduation (e.g. fog, traffic).
* Allows evaluation that is based on an objective
set of scenarios.
* Exams can be very good, but they only test so
much. An exam that incorporates the
simulator allows us to evaluate how a cadet
performs in the workplace they are training to
enter. It also allows us to evaluate how they
will perform as part of a team (Bridge Resource
* If the cadet challenges a score it’s all on tape!
* Body language is recorded.
* This is critical for reviewing performance, by
the end of the semester a cadet is given a
scenario, and no oversight. A scenario that
would not be safe (or legal) on a commercial
* They can then sit with the instructor and
evaluate their performance while watching it
on tape.
* Track performance gaps in the fleet.
* Why is there a tendency to overshoot a pier,
come in too shallow.
* Simulation allows an operator and their senior
captains the ability to track these gaps, and
determine if a change is for the better.
* Ships are machines, the operators need to be
able to know the limits.
* Simulation allows a cadet to push the envelope
in a safe environment.
* Practice!
* Tremendous cost savings (over time).
* The cost of running a large vessel can be
greater than $50K/ day, even our vessel is $10K
a day.
* U.S. Merchant Marine training is regulated by United
States law (Code of Federal Regulations Subpart 46 (46
CFR), and the international treaty Standards of
Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers
* All cadets who began their training on or after 2013
must have instruction in Electronic Chart Display and
Information Systems (ECDIS).
* Global Marine Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)
equipment has effectively replaced the radio officer. A
GMDSS endorsement is required for an ocean license.
* A modern simulator is required for ECDIS, while GMDSS
can be taught using laptops it is not ideal. Use of a
simulator gives a much more realistic presentation.
It is required by law
* Manned models was the preferred methodology
prior to the advent of the modern bridge simulator.
*How was it done
* Location, the academic institution must have access
to a waterfront.
* Weather: they don’t break ice well.
* Cost: computers are much less expensive to
maintain and upgrade than small vessels.
* Limited ability to simulate crossing and/ or heavy
weather issues.
* Cannot accurately model other ports.
* No ability to develop Bridge Team Management
Disadvantages of Manned
* Coast Guard approval allows for 30 days (of
360) sea time on simulators.
* ECDIS/ GMDSS use simulation.
* Simulator is also required for the Bridge
Resource Management (BRM) Course.
* BRM is required by USCG/ STCW.
* Aviation is (much) further ahead.
*How is it imbedded into
the curriculum?
* International Treaty, developed at the International
Maritime Organization (IMO). U.S. is signatory, it is
incorporated into U.S. law.
* STCW can best be viewed as an “international
reflection of your domestic license.” Somewhat
similar to an international drivers license.
* Unfortunately the STCW Code is more geared
toward trade schools than degree granting
Standards of Training,
Certification, and
Watchkeeping for
Seafarers (STCW Code)
* STCW is based on the assessment of
Knowledge, Understanding, and Proficiencies
* These can be accessed in a number of ways,
such as a hands on demonstration, or
attendance at an “approved course.”
* Written exams are not acceptable for
demonstration of an STCW KUP.
* STCW is grappling with simulation at this time.
* Has effectively eliminated a large pool of
qualified and motivated potential Merchant
Mariners; honorably discharged and/ or retired
USN/ USCG mariners.
* Maintaining a license is also costly, this an area
of opportunity for community colleges.
* Licenses have not been unlimited since Exxon
* Cadets and mariners should view their
Merchant Mariner Credentials as a portfolio of
* Goal should be to accrue credentials, not
simply to upgrade.
* “Stackable” Credentials.
*Portfolio of
* The seven maritime academies are incredible
American institutions, but ...
* Is a community college that offers a path to
endorsements for (almost) anything except
unlimited tonnage/ unlimited horsepower a
better model?
*Academy Model
* The number one reason we lose a cadet is finances.
* Not drugs, not conduct, not DUI.
* They are doing great things while simultaneously enrolled in
a challenging academic program.
* GLMA may be most cost effective, but it still costs $75K. It
was $90K when the Bachelor’s Degree was awarded by a
partner institution.
* An 11 semester program (8 academic semesters/ 3 sea
* Very limited ability to work part time/ earn funds for tuition.
* In my world (Midwest) we lose cadets when parents lose their
*Why we lose cadets
* Ideally simulation tricks your mind.
* Develop the Merchant Marine Officers who will
be industries preferred employees.
*What is the end goal?
* Rear Admiral Achenbach (231) 995-1203
* [email protected]
* Do not hesitate to call or email, especially if
you have a question regarding Merchant Marine
*Thank You

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