Validating Marine Simulator Performance –



What Lies Beneath the Surface
by Garland Hardy
he use of marine ship handling and navigation simulators for research purposes is by no means new, although the number of cases of applied research being directly adapted by industry, until quite recently, have been rare. The increased power and capability of marine simulators in recent years, along with the expansion in the number of vendors providing simulator equipment, and the number of organisations using them, has spawned a growing interest in the use of simulators to assist in port development projects, as well as non-curriculum based procedural development, analysis and training.


pilots and tug masters aimed at developing new and effective tug escort and assist tug rules and procedures for a particular port. As simulator instructors, and training and research institutes undertaking these endeavours, how do we exercise due diligence in ensuring that any conclusions, policies, or procedures derived from these simulation sessions are in fact valid, and indeed serve to enhance the overall safety and effectiveness of maritime operations? Questions like these are more relevant today than ever before. Now in its third decade of development, marine simulation is clearly playing a key role in improving both safety and efficiency of world maritime trade. Advances in our understanding of ship dynamics, numerical modelling and full-scale validation processes, and the application of ever-increasing computing power have fused with the collective knowledge of master mariners

The scope of these activities is rather broad, ranging from testing the angle of a proposed new dock, in relation to prevailing winds, tidal stream, or current, to determine if it supports reasonable ease of docking/undocking for a specific vessel design, to fully interactive sessions using

Copyright Journal of Ocean Technology 2007

Virtually a Reality, Vol. 2, No. 4, 2007 1

characterizing this point in time as the rise of marine simulation. if we intend to promote the use of simulators as a medium to develop policy. two things are abundantly clear: we have a solid foundation of systems. but rather relies on human creativity to group together models of these elements in a manner in which the creator believes to represent reality. In the context of maritime simulation. the “Hockey Mom” may consider that her minivan GARLAND HARDY performs exceptionally well. however. As we look forward to where the industry is going. Having defined at least conceptually our basic simulation performance requirement. and the tools of our profession do not provide us with this measure of unequivocal certainty. hydrodynamics or naturally occurring phenomena. then we must assume some measure of responsibility in validating the performance of the systems that we use and the practices that we employ in creating our virtual maritime world. And while the realism and fidelity of marine simulation continue to increase. Like any tool. then information derived from the simulations and the lessons learned. if the simulator is able to perfectly model real world conditions. and the myriad of variables (both physical and human) that contribute to any outcome. standard curriculum based training. In simplistic terms. refine procedures. The marine simulator has become the instructional tool of choice for many institutes and educators. customers and users who believe in the technology. and enhance emergency preparedness. and forms the framework to support meaningful industry-designed training with an emphasis on mission rehearsal rather than generic. In absolute terms. As a community. The virtual world that we mould is not completely dependant on the laws of physics. and an ever-increasing wish list for new applications coupled with the desire to simulate increasingly complex vessels and operations. rehearse the mission. it is therefore logical to conclude that the factors and variables that are instrumental in determining how a real ship performs 2 THE JOURNAL OF OCEAN TECHNOLOGY • Essays Copyright Journal of Ocean Technology 2007 . so too do the many challenges added to the mix by the constant introduction of special purpose vessels. the simulation medium provides us with a mechanism to create a virtual marine environment where we can navigate and manoeuvre our virtual ship. new types of vessel propulsion systems and innovative hull designs.NOT FOR REPRODUCTION from around the world to create realistic simulated environments and experiential training scenarios. The very topic of validity of performance is one that is riddled with ambiguity and interpretation. the world in which we work. the focus of this discussion is on the level of performance that is critical to advanced ship handling and navigation procedures (at the pilotage level). ship’s officer or bridge team navigating an actual vessel on any given day in the real world. the marine simulator’s full potential will only be realised if we continue to use it in a prudent and professional manner. while the driver of a 500 horsepower German sports car might feel that the minivan is not even worthy of measurement on the performance scale. Accurate modelling of these ship-handling elements is essential to procedural development. should be directly transferable to daily practices in our ports and on our waterways. Unfortunately. In comparative terms. dealing with all the challenges and complications that may be presented to the pilot.

Current should be distributed in the vertical and the environment that it interacts with (wet and dry direction (layered) and comprise current itself. In the case of sinkage and squat. as well as a fully contoured seabed. hull form. Vol. and the speeds of both vessels. 2. These forces should act on the entire wetted surface of the ownship to to real world ship handling. the strength of the hydrodynamic interaction must be calculated based GARLAND HARDY on channel width and depth.). the degree of channel constriction in both the horizontal and vertical axis. wavesurface interactions) has to be accurate. propulsion arrangements. it is important to Coupled with these requirements. tidal stream. on the entire wetted surface and not just on one or two “action” points. period of Knowing the elements of the environment that are critical interaction. Sheer. 4. squat and total sinkage. of this three-dimensional model must be incorporated in the computation of under bottom and lateral side clearances. and rotation must be produced First and foremost. Although many of us are using systems provided by a number of vendors. river/canal. engineering and machinery state. 2007 3 . Without creating an exhaustive list. shallow water. equipment failures. sea state. the simulator must ensure that any system used for high performance ship then allow for the horizontal and vertical movement of handling encompasses certain key environmental and water (tidal streams and current) to be accurately physical parameters and that these parameters are fully superimposed on any environmental scenario in a fully integrated into cause/ effect relationships as they are in realistic manner. amount of hull overlap. as well as all hydrodynamic effects. we need to ensure that our produce very realistic pressure and suction effects and virtual environment encompasses these attributes in an the corresponding sheer. between ships. the net result being highly the ship. the relationship between the vessel accordingly. current. and angle of convergence/divergence. approach angle. etc.NOT FOR REPRODUCTION are equally important in the simulation world.). the ownship speed. No. hawsers. All aspects Copyright Journal of Ocean Technology 2007 Virtually a Reality. and the ability of water to flow around the ship must directly affect the magnitude of bank effect. As in real life. and current due to “piston effect” in locks or narrow canals. etc. physical constriction in either the horizontal or vertical axis along any point of the hull form must affect trim. rotation and speed loss. tugs. etc. As with squat effect. and/or the channel is of homogenous width along the entire underwater form. the current condition of the ship (load condition. When a ship meets another vessel. speed through the water must have a significant impact on the overall resultant. applied manner. Current and tidal stream forces must act real life. The simulator must model the entire underwater profile (wet surface) of induced current. etc. we always have to account for factors such as ship design limitations (physical dimensions.). displacement. whenever we consider any ship handling problem (real or simulated). environmental factors and physical constraints of the body of water the ship is in (open deep water. anchors. suffice to say that as mariners. Bank effect must take into account the length and slope of the bank.) and external factors and devices (wind. distance Simulated Tug Operations Benchmarked Against Real Performance Data – Atlantic Towing. This implies that these values must change considerably dependent upon whether or not the bottom is of homogenous depth.

What is of concern. etc. transitional phase with multiple new designs and capabilities being introduced annually. rotation. Correspondingly. Additionally.. This will ensure wind to act on the entire dry surface. The three-dimensional model of the ship must then be fully synchronised to wave motion and the resultant motion in six-degrees of freedom will be a function of combined sea state. rather than on one that the tug can produce very realistic line forces and or two action points. and drift as the ship transitions from one area of tidal or water flow influence to another. Wind gusts need to powered indirect modes for ship escort operations as well directly impact on the magnitude of these effects. working a moving large ship around the bow. and the underwater profile and skeg of the tugs is as much like with current. Further. however. Closely associated with this. then as modelled. Winch particulars must be accurately that if the tidal stream is quite non-homogenous. many as 7. vessel speed. any turn or acceleration rate. Tug models must incorporate highly detailed varied current effects. lee effects in sheltered areas. there must be mechanisms to model the variations in the height of tide throughout a database area and to model complex horizontal water flow in order to create conditions with a variety of tidal stream or current directions and velocities to include effects such as tidal races. none of what has been influence to another.NOT FOR REPRODUCTION realistic sheer. producing a net result of highly realistic sheer. the performance demands on the tug models are also and sheer as a vessel transits through an area with increased. as well as a variety of available line types.8 miles in 20 minutes) beam and stern. and drift as the ship transitions from one area of wind To the experienced mariner. is the somewhat must produce wind-driven waves and swell (both in direction. It has been also require detailed found in recent port small vessel to large development studies that vessel hydrodynamics to even in relatively small create realistic geographic areas (1. as more conventional modes of employment. To support this Equally important is the simulator’s ability to model the diverse fleet. drift effect. height. the simulator 100 hertz. there is a requirement for the important in the simulator as in real life. back eddies.5 MARELISA GELABERT interactions when square miles) over a short transit distance/period Simulation tools are being used extensively in the Panama Canal Expansion. rotation. To support interactive tug training and research. there have to be discussed so far should come as a great surprise.000 fully integrated water-flow nodes (tidal diamond/vectors) in multiple depth layers have been The entire assist tug industry in North America is in a required to accurately replicate real-world tidal effects. handling characteristics when working in the indirect and must be produced accordingly. 4 THE JOURNAL OF OCEAN TECHNOLOGY • Essays Copyright Journal of Ocean Technology 2007 . and wave length) that are modelled independently of one another to permit the creation of a full range of Sea States. These models run-time. and the best systems have dynamic model update rates as fast as a lee area. the performance differential associated with entire freeboard profile (dry surface) of the ship. and wave angle of attack. rotation. Sheer. the horizontal and fendering arrangements vertical water flow and to support realistic their associated values friction and to “stick to” a must be synchronised to moving ship when change automatically over pushing without a line the course of the exercise attached. (1. mechanisms to model physical and geographic effects Modern computer processing power allows present day such that the resultant wind speed and direction vary automatically as a ship transits from an exposed area into simulators to calculate massive amounts of data.

and the simulator manufacturer in order to acquire data and to accurately incorporate it within the simulation model. Additionally. versus how well it is actually being modelled. 2007 5 . the simulator staff. which should be incorporated into the overall simulation model. As simulator operators.137 (76). This type of approach also allows us to make small and sequential extrapolations from the real world data in order to develop reasonably accurate predictions on how new classes of ships will perform under the same conditions. or on how vessel performance may change with modifications to a canal or waterway. models can be further improved through the collection of non-standard manoeuvring data. When this methodology is used. mixed engine arrangements and tugs. Given the vast number of possible Copyright Journal of Ocean Technology 2007 Virtually a Reality. Given that most research applications of ship handling simulators are favouring the light side of applied research versus pure scientific research. No. theoretical model performance is enhanced based on real life performance. 2. If indeed our goal is to refine the performance of our simulators to the highest possible degree. these tools support linear adjustments “on the fly” to a selection of specific parameters.NOT FOR REPRODUCTION apparent bias amongst a certain segment of our community to promote what can be modelled. then our systems and the results attained from them must surely have to be benchmarked and validated against something tangible. This process allows us to ensure there is some measure of validity in the conclusions we draw from advanced ship handling simulations. in isolation of all the other cause and effect relationships. No. Additionally. In addition to open water manoeuvring. In virtually all areas of development. or the pilot on the bridge of the simulator now relies on personal judgement and perception to determine what is correct or realistic. and their recorded sea trial data. 3) that highlighted the history and the many assumption inaccuracies in the design of America’s Cup boats. or even scaled modelling. mooring/tug line attach points and deck layouts. the operator. Again in this situation. math. One overriding fact with computers is that the quality of the data derived from them as outputs is directly linked to the quality of the inputs that they receive. such as ship-to-ship interaction. there are several areas where we can quantify performance by correlating simulator results to live trial data. the first and easiest step in ensuing that the results obtained from the simulator are meaningful is to limit our advanced training and studies to the use of what many manufactures refer to as “Named Ship Models”. as is our degree of confidence in any subsequent simulator results that are obtained. particularly low speed manoeuvring with the use of thrusters. These ship models. the real world results are never completely known until the vessel is in the water and has shown its true performance over the entire race series. then the models we use must be validated against real world performance data. The simulation of the interactive relationship between tugs and large ships is another area where the fidelity of the simulation has benefited tremendously through the incorporation of real world performance data into our simulation models. or benchmarked data. Perhaps of even more concern is the fact that some simulators have “tool kits” which allow the operator to turn on and off hydrodynamic effects at will. This process quite often requires a cooperative effort between pilotage and canal authorities. be it traditional tank testing. The most basic form of named model would at the very least replicate the results that were achieved with the actual ship when it conducted the manoeuvres stipulated in the IMO Standards for Ship Manoeuvrability MSC. have been specifically developed to mirror actual vessels’ physical characteristics. If we are to stand up and profess that the information and training extracted from our simulators is as good as real life. Vol. as opposed to relying on science. the simulation of narrow/shallow channel hydrodynamics is another area where specific data collection can greatly assist in enhancing the accuracy of simulation results by benchmarking the magnitude of squat. numeric modelling. There was an interesting article by Lee Hedd in the previous edition of this Journal (Vol. 2. 4. bank and sheer effects against those observed with a real vessel in the actual location being simulated. rather than relying exclusively on theoretical modelling methods.

we work with solid network of experienced agents who are available at virtually we work with a solid network of experienced agents who are available at virtually any location worldwide. www. Maersk Canada Inc.. Canadian Readiness is essential.NOT FOR REPRODUCTION manoeuvring combinations. low-cost operations practices in support of CANAMP’s effort to design JSS that operations practices in support of CANAMP’s effort to design a JSS that will serve ser ve the Canadian Forces of the www. Our global reach and vast experience are truly unique industry. port authorities. Transportation and Logistics expertise of Maersk Canada The global Maritime.. and Maersk Line. a Dartmouth Nova Scotia based company specialising in the development and delivery of advanced simulation training to naval and commercial customers utilising Kongsberg Ship’s Bridge Simulators. Limited. and holds both a Canadian Navy Maritime Advanced Navigating Officer qualification and a Master Foreign Going Certificate. Inc.maerskline. He has a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from College Militaire Royal de St-Jean. Start your engines and Readiness is essential. In addition to our dedicated employees. low-cost We leverage our world-class integrated logistics support and efficient. Start your engines and t get underway with Maersk get underway with Maersk Canada Inc. ALL AHEAD. is also a proud member of the Canada North Atlantic Marine Partnership (CANAMP) Canadian Joint Support Ship (JSS) team. engineering firms.maerskline. this one step goes a long way in ensuring that simulationtraining sessions contribute to the overall safety and efficiency of maritime operations.Maersk Group locations in over 125 www. It is important that our relatively small community of simulator operators recognise the value of using models that have been validated against live trial data. and the environment. I have personally been involved with a number of projects where the contribution and cooperation of pilotage organisations. have allowed us to achieve very tangible benefits from simulation training and mission rehearsal 6 THE JOURNAL OF OCEAN TECHNOLOGY • Essays Copyright Journal of Ocean Technology 2007 . Garland may be contacted by email at lantec@ns. cargo..P Moller . Line. and Maersk Line. and the simulator manufacturer have greatly improved simulator performance capabilities. In this area in particular. FULL. ALL AHEAD.maersklinelimited.. and Maersk Line.P Moller-Maersk . Garland Hardy is the president of LANTEC Marine Inc. tug companies.. FU The global Maritime. is also proud member of the Canada Nor th Atlantic Maersk Canada Inc. In the last couple of years. Limited extends to more than 325 A. standard IMO manoeuvres speak very little about a tugboat’s true manoeuvring and performance capabilities.sympatico. the importance of a cooperative venture between all industry players in acquiring and incorporating data into the simulation models cannot be overstressed. and the different modes of tugboat employment. While there is arguably no methodology that can ever guarantee results that are 100% accurate..maersklinelimited. Transportation and Logistics expertise of Maersk Canada Inc. We leverage our world-class integrated logistics support and efficient. tug designers. F LL. In addition to our dedicated employees. and in so doing. Our global reach and vast experience are truly any location worldwide. equipment. especially in more advanced ship handling operations involving the safety of personnel. Marine Par tnership (CANAMP) Canadian Joint Support Ship (JSS) team. Limited extends to more than 325 A. in the industry. Group locations in over 125 countries.