ARCHIVED - Safer at sea thanks to virtual training

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March 01, 2011— Ottawa, Ontario

Ocean workers face tremendous risks, especially during severe storms when oil drilling platforms or ships could go under. To ensure they can save themselves and their rescue craft in emergencies, ocean workers need evacuation training in realistic storm conditions. 

But workers can’t easily train on the ocean. Safety drills conducted in even moderately rough weather can cause injuries or death. Even in calm weather, emergency evacuation drills are limited because most systems – often inflatable craft – are designed for launching but are difficult to recover. As a result, personnel are not adequately trained to launch, operate and recover survival and rescue craft in severe weather. 

“Loss of life and equipment is too costly for marine industries,” says António Simões Ré of NRC, who cites the 1982 sinking of the Ocean Ranger drilling rig and the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster. “We need a safe way to train ocean workers to better handle an emergency evacuation.” 

Manufactured by Virtual Marine Technology Ltd., this simulated lifeboat interior delivers risk-free training — through virtual technology — for lifeboat deployment systems.

Manufactured by Virtual Marine Technology Ltd., this simulated lifeboat interior delivers risk-free training — through virtual technology — for lifeboat deployment systems.

Working at the NRC Institute for Ocean Technology (NRC-IOT) in St. John’s, Simões Ré has helped to develop a solution. Since 2002, he has led NRC-IOT’s efforts in a project to create a survival craft training simulator.  

Virtual Marine Technology, a spin-off from NRC, provides small-craft training simulators that combine advanced sensory information with a tailored curriculum to prepare trainees for emergencies at sea.

Simões Ré’s operational data and modelling techniques were collected during model and full-scale trials of evacuation craft. Together with numerical hydrodynamic and evacuation models, these data and modelling techniques have been incorporated into a marine-based virtual training system. That system, once commercialized, will provide evacuation training without the risk. Virtual Marine Technology (VMT) — an NRC spin-off firm — now has the exclusive, worldwide licence to these modelling and data techniques.

The simulator idea grew out of experiments done by NRC-IOT and Memorial University with the objective of developing a full mission, real-time simulator for training. The simulation would focus on the launch and recovery of survival and rescue craft from ships and offshore rigs — to save lives and equipment.

In 2010, an NRC-IOT team collected ice navigation data using a conventional lifeboat. This data will be transferred to the VMT simulator.

In 2010, an NRC-IOT team collected ice navigation data using a conventional lifeboat. This data will be transferred to the VMT simulator.

Simões Ré has been the driving force behind NRC’s marine safety research program since its launch in 1998. In recognition of his many contributions to marine safety technology, he received a 2010 Federal Partners in Technology Transfer Award.

Related information

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada
613-991-1431
media@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

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