Setting Standards for Simulator-Based Training Courses

The use of simulators as a tool for training mariners is increasingly accepted within the marine industry. In many cases, simulation has been added to existing training programs without substantial course redesign to ensure that the simulation contributes effectively to training course objectives. One result has been a lack of standardization in simulator-based courses.

The USCG plays a role in simulator-based mariner training, in part, through its incremental decisions to allow substitution of specific simulator-based training for sea-service requirements. To ensure that current mariner competency levels are maintained and improved, it is important that standards for simulator-based training courses used in licensing and remission of sea time be developed as soon as possible.

Recommendation 1: Marine simulation should be used in conjunction with other training methodologies during routine training, including cadet training at the maritime academies, for the development and qualification of professional mariner knowledge and skills.

Recommendation 2: The U.S. Coast Guard should oversee and guide the establishment of nationally applied standards for all simulator-based training courses within its jurisdiction. Standards development should include consultation with, and perhaps use of, outside expertise available in existing advisory committees, technical groups, forums, or special oversight boards. If the USGC relies on outside bodies, the process should be open and include interdisciplinary consultation with professional marine, trade, labor, and management organizations; federal advisory committees; professional marine pilot organizations; and marine educators, including state and federal maritime academies. Whatever process the USCG choose to use should be acceptable from a regulatory standpoint.

Specific elements of the training standards should address:

  • identifying training objectives;
  • developing standard course syllabi;
  • establishing instructor qualifications and certification (see Recommendation 3);
  • codifying procedures for teaching watchkeeping, bridge team and bridge resource management, shiphandling, emergency response, and other fundamental tasks and skills;
  • creating student evaluation and assessment methodologies; and
  • structuring industrywide research and training program effectiveness measures.

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