A NORTH-EAST centre of expertise for trainee mariners has enhanced its status as a world-leading training centre through a £300,000 systems upgrade.

South Shields Marine School has bolstered its high-tech bridge simulators – used by would-be seafarers to learn to steer ships from the safety of dry land – by installing a new cutting edge software package.

Bosses have invested in Norwegian shipping technology firm Kongsberg’s latest K-Sim simulator software, which allows for best ever training scenarios to be undertaken.

The technology is part of a package of investment which aims to maintain the near 160-year-old marine school’s global reputation for excellence.

The Northern Echo: The marine school’s full mission bridge simulator, which allows deck officers to train as if they’re steering a shipThe marine school’s full mission bridge simulator, which allows deck officers to train as if they’re steering a ship

The marine school also invested in significant hardware improvements, such as new screens for better visuals, and updated consoles and controls cabling.

And further improvements to the marine school – founded in 1861 and the world’s oldest purpose-built maritime training centre – are planned for this summer.

These include its specialist VTS software, used to operate its high capability VTS simulators, also being made K-Sim compliant.

Technical and Projects Manager Paul Hodgson, who led the upgrade, said it had been all hands to the pumps to get the work done amid coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions.

He added: “Installing the software and hardware upgrades has been challenging but also vital to delivering the high-quality instruction for which we are known.

“K-Sim has given us better and more realistic scenarios, and lots of new tools are available, meaning we can deliver an improved learning experience for seafarers training with us.

“The software is a lot more capable, dynamic and sophisticated. I’m looking forward to it providing the bedrock of our enhanced simulation provision for years to come.”

The Northern Echo: South Shields Marine SchoolSouth Shields Marine School

The upgrade also means the marine school’s award-winning digital modelling team can provide an enhanced package of support to clients.

The team is unique in the UK in producing market-leading scaled computer-generated modelling of ports and other seascapes.

These allow naval architects, civil engineers and shipping companies to test their design plans for ports and vessels before they leave the drawing board, minimising the potential for costly real world mistakes.

Its work led the marine school to be awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2019.

More information on South Shields Marine School’s provision is available at www.stc.ac.uk/marine or by calling 0191-427-3500.