First phase of £7m Modal Training complex unveiled

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 22 Feb 2017

SHIP-SHAPE and ready to play a key role! The first phase of the £7 million Modal Training complex has been unveiled as it looks to sail into the skills shortage for the area's biggest economic opportunities.

A world-class marine simulator training facility, equipped with state-of-the-art marine simulators from Kongsberg Maritime – the global leader in marine training technology – is about to open at the Immingham complex.

It is the first independent training organisation in the UK to offer such a comprehensive a range of integrated simulators – allowing individual training or scenarios involving up to 40 people.

Covering bridge, engine and control room, high voltage, dynamic positioning, radar and vessel traffic service simulators, using K-Sim full picture technology, they will allow training to be provided on all vessel types from offshore crew transfer catamarans to tugs and tankers, deep sea vessels and cruise liners.

In pride of place is a Class A full bridge K-Sim offshore vessel simulator, with a fore and aft bridge, DP2 dynamic positioning with K-Pos interface, and anchor handling. It is one of just three in the world to be configured in this way, with others located in Norway and Singapore.

Such is the level of investment and capability it is expected to meet training needs of those working, and hoping to work in the Humber, as well as elsewhere in the UK and globally.

Sam Whitaker, director of strategic projects at Grimsby Institute, the organisation behind Modal Training, said: "As well as being Europe's fourth largest trading estuary and the UK's largest and busiest multi-purpose ports complex, the Humber is home to the UK's rapidly developing wind energy sector.

"Our aim therefore is to meet the training needs of the many global businesses which are establishing themselves around the Humber, as well as providing a new and valuable opportunity for individuals and existing businesses to train locally.

"We are also keen to play our part in addressing the anticipated shortfall in qualified British seafarers which is expected to grow to more than 4,000 in the next seven years – as recently predicted by the The UK Seafarer Projections Report."

The former Fabricom base has been transformed in a project that only began with business case approval in February 2015. It won Government funding in the May, with the site acquired that November.

Mr Whitaker said: "Our ambition from the start was a centre of excellence for ports, energy and logistics. It was a bold statement to make two-and-a-half years ago. It was driven out of the Institute looking forward and seeing what the growth areas are going to be, and where we need to align ourselves.

"We are looking at £4 billion of investment in the Humber in the next few years. A lot led by operators in offshore wind.

"This is economic investment happening now, not a pipe dream. It is real and we have to be ready for it. It has created a series of skills issues, supply doesn't meet demand."

The equipment will allow Modal Training to offer training for a wide range of maritime roles, including deck and engineering officers and crew, marine pilots and VTS operators.

Mr Whitaker said of the £7 million, Grimsby Institute had committed £5 million from its reserves, with £2 million of public money through Humber Local Enterprise Partnership.

"We had to look long and hard to make sure the business case was the right investment for us," he said. "It is the largest skills capital project (to come out of the recent funding rounds) and plenty of people are watching what we are doing, and we are making sure we progress.

"This is genuinely industry-led, we won't be running courses unless industry is demanding them."

Similarly impressive crane simulators, suspended within a large warehouse also featuring actual cranes, will be the next addition, with road simulators looming on the horizon too. A car facility is scheduled for the end of the month, with a truck simulator in the summer.

The final phase has seen a slight re-routing from the original plan as HS2 upskilling emerges with dedicated colleges in Birmingham and Doncaster. "We are in conversations about being a delivery spoke," Mr Whitaker said.

As well as warehouse operations, marine engineering "with a nod towards decommissioning " is now being examined for Modal.

And he is delighted with the location. "We have 30,000 logistics movements out front and we can see the cranes operating on the Port of Immingham. We are right in the middle of the industry we are trying to serve."

Fully operational in days, 2,000 users a year are anticipated to pass through, the majority on short courses and already in work.

Virtual reality

The class B vessel simulator room.

THE team at Modal say simulator training can accelerate learning because key environmental factors can be changed, quite literally, at the flick of a switch.

Wind direction, sea state, weather conditions and light levels can all be adjusted to make the exercise more challenging. Obstacles and difficulties can be introduced to test individual responses and team work. Dangerous scenarios can be created for emergency response training, for what in a 'real life setting' could take a lifetime to experience

The full Kongsberg simulator line up at Modal Training:

  • K-Sim – class A offshore vessel simulator, with a fore and aft bridge
  • K-Sim class B tug simulator
  • K-Sim class B offshore support vessel simulator
  • K-Sim class C dynamic positioning simulator
  • K-Sim engine and control room simulator
  • K-Sim navigation simulator
  • K-Sim VTS simulator

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