Earlier this week, I got the chance to visit the Malaysian Maritime Academy or better known by its acronym ALAM (Akedemi Laut Malaysia), located at Kuala Sg. Baru in Melaka. ALAM is the only establishment in Malaysia that conducts world-recognised training and courses for the maritime industry.
My trip to ALAM was actually to witness a ship simulation exercise for a port constructed in Johor. The ship simulation centre was constructed in 2005 and offers cadets, pilots and other mariners training in full-mission ship handling tasks. Apart from training, the simulation centre allows third-party clients such as port owners to evaluate the safety of ship maneuvers in and out of their ports.
The centre has a bridge mock-up with a near 360-degree view complete with the full range of navigation equipment such as radar, electronic charts, sensors and helm (or the steering wheel to us laymen). The full range of environmental conditions can be simulated such as tide, waves, current, wind and other marine traffic. One of our exercise runs involved the maneuvering of a large oil tanker outbound to sea, at night, in a thunderstorm, through a narrow channel and against current. If that was not enough, there were also incoming ships to deal with. The pilot safely guided the ship out of port and the run was marked as a `pass'. Cool...
Each run can take from 1 to 2 hours, depending on the type of ship being handled and the conditions simulated. Prior to ALAM's setting up of the centre, ship simulation studies had to be done overseas.