San Francisco Bar Pilot John Carlier stood in near darkness on the bridge of a 1,200-foot container ship, staring into the deep, turbulent night. Lightning blinked in the distance as alarms went off all around him. He fidgeted uncomfortably — helpless as the massive ship careened past Alcatraz Island — all navigational control wiped-out by the fierce storm. Then he chuckled.
In this case, Carlier could allow himself a good laugh. The ship’s control deck was firmly on land in the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo. And the doomsday scenario was controlled by the school’s computer generated simulator. Still, Carlier was genuinely uncomfortable with the experience.