The Port Revel Shiphandling Training Centre is a French maritime pilotage school that trains pilots, masters, and officers on large ships like supertankers, container ships, LNG carriers and cruise ships . The facility uses manned models at a 1:25 scale on a man-made lake designed to simulate natural conditions including harbours, canals, and open seas. It was the first such facility in the world. The Centre was created in 1967 near Grenoble, France, by Laboratoire Dauphinois d'Hydraulique (now Artelia).

The courses are given by former maritime pilots. Since 1967, the Centre has trained over 6 500 maritime pilots, captains and officers from all over the world. French, European, Australian, Brazilian and North American pilots make up 90% of the Centre's students.

The manned model training regime is now recommended by the International Maritime Organization under Resolution A 960 (23) of December 2005.

The facility was written about by John McPhee in an Oc...Read more

The Port Revel Shiphandling Training Centre is a French maritime pilotage school that trains pilots, masters, and officers on large ships like supertankers, container ships, LNG carriers and cruise ships . The facility uses manned models at a 1:25 scale on a man-made lake designed to simulate natural conditions including harbours, canals, and open seas. It was the first such facility in the world. The Centre was created in 1967 near Grenoble, France, by Laboratoire Dauphinois d'Hydraulique (now Artelia).

The courses are given by former maritime pilots. Since 1967, the Centre has trained over 6 500 maritime pilots, captains and officers from all over the world. French, European, Australian, Brazilian and North American pilots make up 90% of the Centre's students.

The manned model training regime is now recommended by the International Maritime Organization under Resolution A 960 (23) of December 2005.

The facility was written about by John McPhee in an October, 1998 article for The Atlantic Monthly, later republished as Chapter Two in his book Uncommon Carriers (2006).

The centre's origin goes back to the fifties, when Port Revel's mother company, Sogreah, was studying bank erosion on the Suez Canal using model ships sailing on a scale model with a movable bed (i.e. granular material subjected to erosion by turbulent water movement).

At the end of the sixties this experience with free sailing model ships was used by Esso to anticipate the manoeuvring behaviour of the new, much larger, oil tankers.

After three years spent with Esso captains between 1967 and 1970, the Centre was taken over by Sogreah in 1970.

During the 1970s, most students were captains, while the first maritime pilots came to discover the centre.

In the 1990s, the first refresher courses were organised for pilots, who returned every 5 years. These courses are less directive and leave more room for customisation, which is a way of optimising port operations to increase port accessibility.

Manned model shiphandling training has improved over the years because:

the instructors have become more proficient in delivering the courses and in their ability to structure courses as required, lake facilities have undergone changes, such as the creation of extensive shallow water areas with currents, and can mimic specific port scenarios, all kinds of large ships are available and model electronics have become more sophisticated in order to reproduce real ship manoeuvring behaviour, tugs have become a part of the courses since 2000, providing realistic capability for berthing/unberthing operations and escort work, pod propulsion is available since 2006, introducing quality assurance has increased the reliability of ships and equipment, the lake area was extended from four to five hectares during the winter 2008-2009, a large container ship (8 500 TEU) was added to the fleet in 2009, a large LNG carrier of 266 000 m3, the Q-Max, was added in 2010, a Controllable-pitch propeller (CPP) was introduced in 2013, a cruise ship (5000 people) with 2 pods and powerful bow thrusters was added in 2014.
Photographies by:
Artreve at English Wikipedia - Public domain
Artreve at English Wikipedia - Public domain
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