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Miniature ships in France used to train captains and pilots

PortandTerminal.com, October 12, 2019

An outsider at this facility near Grenoble, France, may see grown men riding around a lake in miniature ships. But these are pilots of the world’s largest ships, and they’re practising navigation with meticulously engineered 1:25 scale models of real cruisers, tankers, and containerships.

Port Revel Shiphandling Training Centre, in operation since 1967, has had more than 6,000 maritime pilots and merchant ship officers from all over the world train on its 13-acre man-made lake. Wind-, wave-, and current-generating machines simulate real-world conditions, to help the pilots learn how to manoeuvre in shallow waters and deal with emergencies—in safe conditions.

The ship models behave exactly like real ships, only much faster. The training center emphasizes that this feeling of “realness” gives its trainees a much better hands-on experience than a simulator alone.

“It was very valuable to do a maneuver on a model that I haven’t done in real life, fast anchoring, emergency anchoring. I have done these on simulators but the models are much more realistic.”

Captain David CVITANOVIC – San Francisco Bar Pilots

The school recently added its own built-to-scale course of the giant new locks that will open next year to allow the passage of large ships through the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal Pilots Association has made its own training lake but is sending senior pilots and simulator instructors to Port Revel to learn how to teach using manned models. Port Revel has built two large model ships and is sending them along with four radio-controlled tugboats to the Panama Canal training facility.

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