Simulators Train Pilots for Largest Landlocked Port


Members of the Houston Pilots recently participated in two custom-built simulation courses vital to their pilotage duties in the Houston Ship Channel and the Port of Houston, the largest landlocked port in America.

Each course was two days long and was provided by the Maritime Simulation Resource Centre (MSRC), at their Quebec City, Canada-based facility.

The Houston Pilots face a multitude of factors when piloting large ships in their waterways, including weather and wind, a very small turning basin, as well as intricate 24/7 traffic management.

Houston Pilots are preparing for 354-meter by 46-meter vessels that will soon begin arriving once the planned Barber’s Cut dredging is completed in mid-2018, deepening the terminal channel to 45 feet to match the depth of the federal Houston Ship Channel.

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A two-day course will teach the pilots how to analyze the challenges of Post-Panamax vessel transit such as navigation through confined waterways, ship handling, and traffic management.

Other areas covered include the effects of wind and speed, turning basins, tug requirements, infrastructures and seaways limitations.

Different types of large vessels are simulated at various escort speeds within the operational environmental limits which are encountered in specific Pilotage waters.

During simulation exercises at the recent training, each Houston Pilot took turns piloting a ship, as well as experienced the challenges of driving a tug.

Capt. Shearon, Presiding Officer of the Houston Pilots, said: “Simulation allows us to practice maneuvers that we’re going to do in our own channel which is extremely beneficial.

“Understanding the capabilities and abilities of the tugs were a key takeaway from that course.

“When I step on the next-generation containership for the first time, I’m going to know I had some really good training here at MSRC.”

Find out more about how MSRC aims to tackle a new range of problems brought by the post-Panamax and mega-ship era.

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