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Why train on manned scale models?

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":

  • Nature is at work on scale models, with random effects similar to those encountered in real-life situations. The unforeseeable character of squalls, shallows, currents and waves calls for an immediate, appropriate reaction, without any repeat or automatic response. And when things go wrong on the scale model, the pilot really feels his ship run aground or collide with another ship or berth. Those who have experienced a situation of this kind know how much it motivates and convinces them to do better…
  • For the same reason (natural phenomena) hydrodynamic effects are correctly reproduced on scale models and it is therefore unnecessary to transpose them in the form of complex equations. This gives a better simulation of hydrodynamic effects such as interactions between ships (for example in a canal), interactions between the ship and berth, little under-keel clearance and the use of anchor dredging or tugs in various operating situations.
  • The scale effect of wind on a manned model is well known, but it is also well known that this is in no way detrimental to the use of manned models for serious and effective shiphandling training. Wind is a factor in the everyday life of Pilots throughout the world. The design of manned model lakes is such that the wind element will vary in different parts of the lake. This allows a course to be structured in such a manner as to introduce wind as and when required. Extreme wind conditions are encountered in the real world. If they occur at a manned model centre, with care they can be used in various scenarios to demonstrate how well control can be maintained.
  • Therefore the ship models behave exactly like real ships, only much faster. Hence, reality will be much slower than the model, thus leaving quite a lot more time to react. Manned Models sharpen the shiphandlers’ natural senses of perception and anticipation and enable the ship's behaviour as a whole to be appreciated. These skills are paramount when manoeuvring a full size vessel.
  • The time scale also means that it is possible to perform five times as many manoeuvres. In other words, it is possible to perform as many manoeuvres in a 35 hour course as in 175 hours on the real ship. If you then consider the cost of scale models compared to computer models in terms of cost per manoeuvre and per pilot, you might find that scale models are even cheaper than computer models!!

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."

Download our Technical Documentation

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