Gdynia, Poland: The very first 3D survey simulator specially designed to improve safety in the shipping industry is now in use. By this - virtual ships used for extensive training, knowledge sharing and experience development are brought into the class rooms.

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Olav Nortun
Olav Nortun, DNV’s COO responsible for Global Development

Class surveyors and also port state inspectors are able to take major steps forward through improved and accelerated training. Later on ship officers and superintendents will be able to start using the new tool too.

The 3D survey simulator has been developed by DNV. Based on the same principles as those used in computer games, trainees are able to navigate around all parts of a vessel. Inspections can be carried out from the upper part of the superstructure to the lower part of a cargo hold or the ship’s double bottom. Even a drilling rig can be surveyed in cyberspace.

“For DNV, it’s important to develop technology and invest our money where the whole maritime industry can be brought new steps forward to improved safety. I’m proud of what we have achieved and the fact that, after years of intensive in-house software development, we are today presenting a unique tool,” says Olav Nortun, DNV’s COO responsible for Global Development.

The complete 3D training facilities are installed at Gdynia, Poland. A new building was opened earlier this month and training facilities mainly designed for the 3D simulator are an important part of the building. But – as Nortun stressed when he introduced some of the maritime media to the new tool today – the equipment will be made portable and surveyors can be trained almost everywhere.

The 3D survey simulator allows trainees to conduct inspections on virtual vessels, indentify non-compliances and safety issues and optimise workflow processes in a controlled, interactive and guided environment. Using images taken from existing vessels, the 3D-enabled software replicates onboard conditions with remarkable fidelity.

“Not only have the technology developed. So have the surveyors too. Especially the younger surveyors have used computer systems as a more integrated part of their education. They are a modern generation of gamers. They are often named the “PlayStation generation”. This tool meets their expectations,” Nortun adds.

The software has been developed to make the simulator flexible. Numerous different findings can be included so that surveyors can visualise what they will face in a real situation. Trainees are allowed to adjust conditions, such as the degree of corrosion and weather and light conditions, to fit different purposes. Safety conflicts are also built into the program to encourage trainees to be more aware of potential hazards while inspecting.

“Over the past few years, the number of ships in operation has increased a lot. Recruiting skilled professionals to all parts of the industry has become a challenge. Nothing can replace onboard training when it comes to achieving experience and improving knowledge, but the 3D simulator is the closest we can come on shore,” Nortun concludes.