The new solution allows instructors to deliver simulation training courses to student seafarers studying at home and other remote locations.

In three weeks we did things that would normally have taken us six months. We had to deploy a completely new platform. We adapted navigational simulation systems that were designed to be on ships for the cloud, and prepared a tool meant to work on just one certified operating system to run on whatever students have at home. It was a huge achievement by our research and development team

said Johan Ekvall, Solutions & Business Development Director, Wärtsilä Voyage

Wärtsilä Voyage delivered its first remote training platform back in 2015 to the State University of New York’s Maritime College. But that was a simpler system in which students made their own way through a pre-defined course, rather than the interaction between student and instructor enabled by Wärtsilä Simulation Cloud Services.

According to one of the schools that helped Wärtsilä Voyage to test the new service, the ability to teach students from afar has been very important in a period that could have been hugely disruptive. When the Slovenian government put in place social distancing recommendations in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in March, the maritime department at the University of Ljubljana closed for a couple of days to consider how to proceed.

The faculty, including head of department Dr Andrej Androjna, was aware that the recommendations would severely impact the practical training it could offer students.  The proposal from Wärtsilä Voyage was very welcome, highlights Dr Androjna.

The University of Ljubljana saw the potential in Wärtsilä Voyage’s Cloud Solutions offering, using it across six-course modules, including ECDIS training, main engine propulsion and passage planning. These month-long courses, taught to students studying both naval architecture and marine engineering degrees, would have been severely restricted without the capability to offer them remotely.

The cloud courses were a perfect solution to the problem of Covid-19. We liked that the simulator preparation and choice of configuration are enabled and performed in the same way as in the actual simulator and that students can repeat the exercises without the presence of the instructor. We also noticed that students are much more relaxed and actually communicate more

says Dr Androjna.

Wärtsilä Voyage took a big step towards advancing the uptake of cloud-based simulator training, as ClassNK certified online installations of its engine room and liquid cargo and ballast handling simulators.

According to Neil Bennett, Sales Director, Global Simulation, feedback from schools like the University of Ljubljana indicate not only a willingness to try new solutions during a period of disruption, but a wider and more far-reaching change in attitude to seafarer training.