Of all the ideas that have been put forth to deal with piracy attacks, proper crew training as part of best management practice surely deserves to be at the top of the list. And of all the solutions for anti-piracy training, we recommend two which harness simulation technology but cater to different markets. One is the NAUTIS Naval Task Force from VSTEP of The Netherlands; the other is from Russian-owned Transas. Both have the essential ingredients for honest-to-goodness anti-piracy training: visual realism, user-friendliness and wide choice of scenarios.
The NAUTIS Naval Task Force is a simulator software designed specifically for navies and law enforcement agencies. It is suited for navigation planning and training as well as more specific naval tasks such as replenishment at sea, tactical communications with flags & Morse, bridge team management, amphibious operations, RAS, flight ops and DIVTACs. With the NAUTIS visual editor, one can create varied piracy scenarios for training on how to identify suspicious behaviour on the part of approaching vessels (through visual identification, AIS and ECDIS) and how to respond to the threat.
It’s interesting to note that pirate boats in NAUTIS can shoot rockets, fire gunshots and use ladders for scaling the side of the target vessel. Says VSTEP Chief Marketing Officer Frank Dolmans: “This extra functionality was requested by Dutch anti-piracy training experts and sets us apart from all other anti-piracy solutions available.”
The Transas Anti-Piracy Package is designed for maritime schools and training institutions. It consists of a mothership, a smaller mothership and four fastboats with different speeds. The pirate boats look like the real thing: badly maintained and rusty. The fastboats have four different visual states that can be adjusted according to the level of the threat: from “fisher” to “aggressive pirate.” During an exercise, trainees learn how to detect a hostile pirate vessel using ECDIS, radar plotting, AIS information, visual sightings (by fuel barrels on deck, weapons, type and number of crewmembers etc) and by comparison of target data with known behavioural patterns of pirate vessels.
As is its wont, Transas has put in a great deal of effort to provide visual realism and increase situational awareness in trainees – from the fastboats and pirate skiffs to manoeuvering characteristics. Its anti-piracy package has the advantage of using elements available in the Transas navigational simulator (e.g., naval ships and helicopters as objects for convoy sailing and training in communication procedures). Says Ralf Lehnert, Director of the Transas Marine Simulation Business Unit: “Anti-Piracy training is all about early reconnaissance and recognition and then about initiating the countermeasures and best management practice at earliest.”
In the end, it’s all about quality tools for training and the qualified people to train. By offering the former, both VStep and Transas are helping solve half of the piracy problem. ~Barista Uno