The Canadian St Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes Pilots and Viking Ocean Cruises’ Masters are preparing for the first season of the ‘Viking Octantis’, at the Maritime Simulation and Resource Centre (MSRC) facilities.
Following the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority (GLPA) initiative and with Viking Ocean Cruise’s participation, the MSRC was commissioned to create a mathematical model of the new cruise and exploration vessel.
MSRC also developed new geographic databases of the locations to be visited by the vessel, adding to the portfolio already developed over the past 15 years for GLPA pilot training.
Participants can now navigate the Georgian Bay, including the ports of Little Current, Parry Sound and Midland. Also included are the Keewenaw Waterway, the Ports of Duluth and Milwaukee.
“We have the ability to produce custom navigation locations and ship models to match reality as closely as possible,” said Paul Racicot, MSRC Director. “Our in-house resources allow us to make immediate, last-minute changes to the ship model and databases if the need arises.”
From the first trials of the ship model, Capt Anders Steen, commander of the ‘Viking Octantis’, concluded: “The model is realistic and matches what I experienced on the real ship. I’m looking forward to starting the simulations together with the pilots.”
Following tests, ‘Viking Octantis’ was immediately put to use in the simulator, allowing everyone to begin familiarisation programmes.
Through navigation simulations, this proactive training was undertaken with the intent of not only introducing the Masters of the ‘Viking Octantis’ – who will command the vessel on the Great Lakes in 2022 – to the Seaway/Great Lakes system, but also providing pilots from the five GLPA districts with the opportunity to become familiar with this new type of vessel.
Its size, the type of propulsion and the multiple destinations require thorough preparation to ensure safe navigation for the passengers, the crew, and the environment. The cruise ship is the first of its size to sail in this region and will spend a full summer on the Great Lakes.
Designed for optimal transportation through the Seaway and Welland Canal locks, ‘Viking Octantis’ is equipped with two Azipods and three bow thrusters that can be controlled by a dynamic positioning system. However, this requires adjustment and familiarisation.
“It is important that our pilots become familiar with Viking’s Bridge Resource Management procedures and that the Masters fully understand the legal role of the pilot. The propulsion and dynamic positioning system also requires adaptation, especially in the locks. Masters and pilots worked in a positive and collaborative way to understand each other’s roles, responsibilities, and limitations.
“We are very pleased with our initiative and look forward to a long collaboration between the GLPA and Viking,” said Christian Ouellet, GLPA Director of Operations, who was present during the training.