Maritime group Eastern Pacific Shipping has partnered with technology developer Kanda to bring virtual reality training for LNG bunkering to seafarers.
The shipping line and Kanda have jointly developed the interactive, multi-user VR experience, over the last 18 months, receiving endorsements from shipowners, managers and crew.
“Because of the immersive nature of VR, students can get a feel for the true scale of the vessels they will be working on and the equipment they will be operating, making them better prepared for actual operations. For a generation that has grown up infatuated with high-fidelity videogames, VR training will also appeal much more to seafarers than PowerPoint slides, zoom calls, and lectures,” a spokesperson for EPS said.
Danish firm Kanda develops immersive digital learning applications and is part-funded by EPS.
To create unique spaces for corporate learning, the small start-up leverages virtual reality, 3D models and collaborative online interaction.
The new technology allows users to wear a lightweight Oculus headset from the comfort of their home, manning office, or hotel room, and step onto the deck of a virtual EPS ship, complete with LNG pump and the manifold equipment.
The connected nature of the technology also allows users to interact with fellow classmates and the instructor through audio and visual avatars, even if the class members are physically in different locations.
“The seafarer could collaborate with other students to complete an LNG bunkering operation, training their muscle memory by using virtual spanners (with haptic feedback so that they feel real) to loosen or tighten bolts in the LNG hoses, while the instructor observes closely, intervening and demonstrating as needed,” EPS sates.
EPS also highlights the green credentials of the new training approach, as seafarers no longer need to fly to places like Singapore, Copenhagen, or Seoul to attend multi-day courses at a maritime academy but can instead train remotely.
Headquartered in Singapore, EPS operates a fleet of containership, dry bulk, and tanker vessels, with a combined 18 million deadweight-tonnes. The firm employs 5,000 sea and shore staff.
“Training is not limited to narrow simulations but can reflect the most up-to-date equipment and vessel configurations and can accommodate as many students as needed [and] it’s clean, eliminating the risk of transmitting Covid-19 between seafarers and across international borders (as well as the associated inconveniences of quarantines, Covid testing, and safe-distancing measures),” an EPS spokesperson said.