Because this is still the best way to acquire certain reflexes which, when the time comes, will make all the difference between being good and being the best. Training on the scale models provides experience that could never be gained on real ships for the simple reason that neither ship-owners nor local authorities would allow such risks to be taken. Scale models allow the shiphandler to make mistakes. Scale models allow experimentation on ship behaviour to explore unknown fields beyond the limits of safety. Periodic training on scale models will maintain your shiphandling skills at the highest level and periodic evaluations will show it.
Training on the manned 1:25 scale models is a valuable complement to training on electronic simulators as it provides additional experience through a feeling of "déjà vu":
Manned models are considered by ships' captains and pilots - shiphandlers par excellence - as the next best thing to a full-scale prototype for studying and understanding a ship's behaviour.
At Port Revel,
• we have had over 6 000 participants since 1967 (mainly from the USA, Canada, Europe and France),
• our instructors are highly experienced maritime pilots,
• we inherited of Sogreah's nearly one century of experience with scale models,
• our fleet of 11 models reproducing over 20 different vessels is by far the biggest,
• our 4 escort tugs are operated by a real tug master at the pilot's orders,
• our lake includes a wave generator, a current generator and a wind generator
• our lake is most versatile with very little interference from wind,
• our lake features more shallow water areas: 70% of its surface is shallower than 27.5 m (90 ft),
• our DGPS allows accurate debriefing of the exercises performed on the lake.
Manned model shiphandling training has improved to a high standard over the years because:
•the instructors have become more skilled and proficient in the delivery of the courses and in their ability to structure specific and customised courses as required,
•lake facilities have undergone changes, such as the creation of extensive shallow water areas with currents, and are such that in many cases they are able to mimic specific port scenarios,
•model electronics have become more sophisticated in order to reproduce real ship manoeuvring behaviour,
•tugs have become an integral part of the courses, providing very effective and realistic capability for berthing / unberthing operations and escort work,
•pod propulsion is now available, keeping manned models up to date with modern trends,
•Introduction of Quality Assurance increased the reliability of model ships and equipment.
Port Revel is a permanent forum of ideas, an ideal meeting place where information and experience can be exchanged, or as a pilot once pointed out: "In regular life, a practising pilot is always alone. He has no-one around to comment on or discuss a particular manoeuvre. The only times when a manoeuvre is analysed and commented is after an accident, when there is an inquiry. And that always takes place in a mood of tension. What I appreciate at Port Revel is that pilots observe your work in a calm, dispassionate and therefore constructive climate."