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BC Ferries unveils $2.5M training simulator

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BC Ferries unveiled its newest asset on Wednesday, and while it's something the public will never see in person, it is something the company says riders will definitely benefit from.

After a year of construction, a new "Simulation Training Centre" has officially opened at BC Ferries' Departure Bay Terminal in Nanaimo.

(CTV News)"This is a huge tool to motivate our licensed officers, it's important for retention for our fleet," said Robin Grypma, senior manager at the Simulation Training Centre.

"BC Ferries has spent a lot of money on this facility because it's an investment in our fleet," she said.

Crew members go through the centre to refine their skills and practice on new routes through two highly realistic simulators that accurately recreate the entire coast and mimic the different equipment on each type of ferry in the fleet.

"We bring every licensed officer into the simulation training centre," said Grypma. "We train them for a variety of different events they may experience and it's the safest place to do that."

While mishaps with BC Ferries vessels are rare they can occur and the simulator offers a place to review incidents to prevent them from occurring again.

"If we're doing a reconstruction I will have the incident report in front of me and I will go through as close as I can to what actually happened so that the next team can live through it, respond to it, correct it, not have that problem," said simulation training manager Malcom Rodger.

(CTV News)The $2.5 million facility replaces three older simulators BC Ferries operated in different terminals and centralizes them in Nanaimo.

"We have lots of collision avoidance scenarios which we create here. We can also recreate different wind conditions, weather conditions, bring in the fog, bring in strong wind, practice docking in those conditions," Grypma said.

The improved technology has come a long way from when the company first got into simulation technology more than a dozen years ago.

"Technology definitely changes. The amount of assets in this room, we originally started with a small simulator, this console, in fact, and five small screens. Now we have nine screens, seven consoles," said Grypma. 

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