Innovation & Technology: For Innovation and Technology in Maritime SAR

In order to prepared for, and be effective in emergency situations, organisations must learn to work together and SAR personnel need to gain as much experience as possible.

This is best achieved through practice and realistic exercises.

But, effective training opportunities structured around complex maritime incidents are very limited, mainly because of high costs, the potential risks to participants in live SAR exercises, and a limited number of participating SAR personnel.

As a result, seagoing authorities all need more training and exercises.

The joint R&D project ‘Maritime Simulators Network’ (MAR-SimNET; 2013-2017) aims to provide this training.

The simulator offers a valuable opportunity to practice difficult navigational situations and communications, to manage bridge resources, while providing training in soft skills too.

The simulator can be used to build experience with global maritime distress and safety systems (GMDSS) devices, and offers for the first time a chance to combine ship handling skills and GMDSS simulation.

However, the MAR-SimNET Project viewed this as just the first step in creating a simulator for SAR purposes.

Real SAR missions do not just involve ships; a real SAR mission also involves the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) and the coastal radio stations. But before the MAR-SimNET Project, MRCC simulators had not yet been developed – thanks to this project, now they have.

The last important players in SAR missions are helicopters, which provide quick transportation of rescue equipment and accident victims, or other assisting units either on-the-scene, or acting as a search unit.

The aim of the MAR-SimNET project was to develop a SAR mission simulator that provided all the interorganisational training for all of the authorities and organisations who might be involved, from the bridge crews of different vessels to helicopter crews and MRCC personnel, whilst also delivering a simulated workplace for the operators of coastal counties and their public-safety response teams.

By evaluating and collating all of the different stakeholder needs into an integrated, interlinked SAR simulator infrastructure, the project has been able to deliver comprehensive training for maritime disaster management and beyond.

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