Interview: Hans Hederström, Managing Director of Carnival Corp.’s State-of-the-Art Maritime Simulation Training Center

Simulator training at the CSMART maritime training facility in Almere, Netherlands, where much of the training for Carnival Cruise Lines’ officers takes place. Image courtesy CSMART

Interview by Paul González-Morgan (Marine Strategy) – Hans Hederström is the Managing Director of CSMART Academy, Center for Simulator Maritime Training, the state-of-the-art international maritime training center of the world’s largest cruise company, Carnival Corporation & plc Group. Opened in July 2009 and located in Almere, Netherlands, CSMART Academy established itself as a world-class training center for safety, sustainability and operational excellence in maritime operations. It features the most advanced simulator equipment, technology and instructional tools and is aimed at training 6,500 Carnival deck and engineering officers every year.

Hederström has over 50 years of maritime experience and is the principal architect in bringing the Academy to life, by writing the simulator specification and getting a team of professional instructors together responsible for the delivery of the course work.

Why was the Carnival Corporation CSMART Academy founded?

In 2007, four groups of nautical educators travelled on eight ships from P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises — part of the Carnival Corporation family of brands — to evaluate bridge and safety management practices, report on their findings and recommend potential improvements. The educators agreed that each ship operated to a high standard of traditional navigation, but with today’s evolution to operating large cruise ships in ports with minimal operational margins, they believed it was essential that navigation and maneuvering be carried out with high precision using all available resources, and that bridge practices should be adapting with the times. Recommendations included officer understanding of bridge navigation equipment, new bridge organization and procedures and simulator training.

To meet these recommendations, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises established a training center with actual bridge equipment and a layout identical to ones onboard their most modern vessels. In July 2009, the CSMART facility opened, forming the foundation for today’s Arison Maritime Center.

Why Almere, Amsterdam?

The vast majority of our trainees are located in Europe, flying them into Amsterdam was the most attractive option as a central point in the continent. Almere provided us with sufficient space for our center and easy access to the air bridge of Schiphol airport.

Please talk to us about the facilities and services available at the campus:

The Arison Maritime Center, a spectacular, state-of-the-art campus featuring the CSMART Academy and a 176-room hotel. The CSMART Academy, features the most advanced bridge and engine room simulator technology and equipment available today, with enough space to complete rigorous annual professional training for the
company’s 6,500 deck and engineering officers. With its scale, technology and equipment, and continuous training approach, the new facility is the most progressive maritime center of its kind in the world for training and continually improving industry-wide safety and excellence.

The CSMART Academy features four full mission bridge simulators with separate bridge wings, 8 part task bridge simulators, 12 voyage planning stations, 7 ship stability training stations, 4 full mission engine simulators with 12 virtual engine rooms, 36 engine desk top simulators, 2 high voltage training simulators, 1 environmental training lab, 16 class rooms and 8 debriefing rooms. At nearly 11,000 m2, the new CSMART Academy has doubled the capacity of the original center, enabling Carnival Corporation to train more officers more often, spend more time training on simulators and provide more real-time feedback to officers.

Why is simulation training important and what are the key benefits for participants?

Just as in the aviation industry simulator training is required to develop and maintain skills to deal with critical high risk operations. It would impose a too high risk to train for those situations in the real world. A simulator creates a safe environment to train and continuously develop and improve proficiency with an emphasis on critical thinking, decision-making and problem solving.

Today’s ship simulators are technologically advanced. How developed are the visual and operational features?
The operational features as well as the layout of bridge and engine control room are replicating the latest new-build ships. The visual features are the most advanced in the industry providing the same field of view as on the ships with real bridge wings featuring the same equipment as on the real ships.

Please tell us more about the Continuous Development Program:

The CSMART Academy’s faculty is hosting the cruise industry’s first Continuous Development simulator-based appraisal program. It is a new Continuous Development Program for deck, engine and electrical officers, inspired by the aviation and nuclear power industries’ approach to recurrent training and validation of competencies.

Completing the weeklong course as part of the company’s Continuous Professional Development matrix is a mandatory requirement for every maritime officer from each of Carnival Corporation’s nine cruise line brands, exceeding regulatory requirements.

What benefits do port studies bring to the development program of your participants?

During a port study captains and pilots create a joint passage plan which is tested under challenging conditions in the simulator over a five day period. This means that the bridge team and the pilots can have a shared mental model of the upcoming operation even before pilot board the ship. It also reduces the time for the master pilot information exchange as most topics are already agreed upon and only dynamic topics such as weather and traffic need to be discussed.

The port study report also provides evidenced based guidance in case of “go” – “no go” situations, as simulator based operational envelope and agreed/proposed passage plan is available.

This program also provides our cruise lines with the option to send a whole bridge team for specific training in a particular port with local pilots. This is a common procedure when a new build ship is about to enter into service. The new Aida Nova, which will enter into service in October/November has been available in the simulator since last year. We have done many port studies with this model and the bridge and engineering teams are expected to come to CSMART for thorough training before delivery. This is how CSMART is creating safety through proactive resilient processes by anticipating and planning for unexpected events.

In terms of safety and sharing best practices, how important is the team-based approach on the bridge?

Looking into incident and accident reports you will find that the most common contributing factors are: poor planning, poor communication and one person error not detected and leading to negative outcomes.

“Human errors” are present in all industries and cannot be eliminated, but in a well-functioning team with overlapping tasks and responsibilities, errors are expected, detected and managed before they cause any negative consequences.

Working as a coordinated team is essential in all time critical high risk industries, be it Nuclear, Hospital, Aviation etc. How do you keep up with changing regulation and maintaining the simulators up to date?

Regulations state the minimum requirements for safe operations, but we always aim to exceed those requirements to set a high industry standard for operational excellence and safety. CSMART training courses all go beyond statutory requirements in order to keep up with increasing operational complexity. Just on the job training is no longer sufficient for developing and maintaining skills to operate ever-increasing size of ships with a high level of complexity both on the bridge and in the engine room.

Twice a year, there is a maintenance period when new software is integrated into the computers running the simulators. This is also the time when new equipment, which is about to be installed on ships are installed in the simulators. We aim, as far as possible to replicate the working environment on ships in the simulators in order to make the training realistic and efficient.

Where do you see the Academy in five years from now?

For 2019 we are fully booked, there is not a single simulator slot available and with an ever increasing demand for training at all levels there will be a need to expand the facility and utilize more of our plot of land. In five years from now I believe this expansion has taken place and that CSMART will provide an even wider range of training and research.

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