Virtual reality boosts Navy training

NZ Navy deploys 'synthetic training environment'

The New Zealand Defence Force is one step closer to being a modern, technologically-enabled military with the installation of virtual simulators at the Royal New Zealand Navy base in Devonport, Auckland.

Commodore Pat Williams opened Phase II of the $5 million Marine Engineering Synthetic Training Environment (MESTE) this month.

The three-phase project will ultimately include replications of two generic merchant vessels, the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) and an Anzac frigate.

The simulation technology uses dedicated hardware and advanced software models to replicate ship equipment, as well as the overall characteristics of actual vessels.

It enables the Navy to train marine technicians faster and in realistic situations, without risk to people or ships.

“Simulation is the future for this kind of training and we set out to build a facility that gives our people the opportunity to learn new skills and test them in a challenging and realistic environment,” Williams says.

The Army also has simulation centres at Linton, Waiouru and Burnham. These centres offer a mix of different software and hardware options, depending on the training required at each location.

Early last year, the Army installed its weapon training system (WTS) at Waiouru.

The WTS systems use a range of hardware such as keypads, joysticks, binoculars, headphones, adapted artillery, speakers, small monitors and projected screens.

The Navy simulator is a joint effort between the Navy, engineering consultancy Beca, New Zealand marine electronics company Electronic Navigation Ltd (ENL) and specialist developer Transas.

Beca was commissioned by the Navy to provide project management services for the acquisition, installation and commissioning of the simulator. ENL, with Transas as a sub-contractor, was chosen to develop and install the capability.

The facility works by replicating the operation of machinery, bridge and power systems; enabling trainees to complete switchboard, systems and machinery and full mission training including extreme emergency breakdown situations.

Navy Technical Training Officer Lieutenant Commander Des Tiller said the introduction into service of the simulator was a significant step forward.

“Training through emulation and simulation will surpass the more traditional methods of evaluation and training conducted at sea in considerably shorter periods without the associated impact on operational ships.”

With scripted scenarios and guided tutorials, the simulator will provide training on ship specific systems, with the ability to conduct “whole ship” evolutions through the integration of bridge and navigation simulation in a scenario-based assessment.

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Tags technologyNavynew zealand defence forcemeste

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