Expanding Our Use of Sumulators is a Key Component of Foss Maritime’s Commitment to Incident-Free Operations

By Igor Loch
Vice President, Operations and Marine Assurance

Capt. Igor Loch

Foss Maritime has been using and participating in simulation exercises since the mid-1990s. Activities have included bridge resource management training (BRM), training with pilot groups, and project validation studies with customers.

For a number of years we have worked with the Pacific Maritime Institute in Seattle to establish Navigational Skills Assessment Program (NSAP) training for Foss deck officers as a regular training and skill evaluation format.

One of our key projects was developing a simulation for Piltun Bay operations on the Sakhalin project. Our simulation projects also have included working with the SIU Seafarers Harry Lundberg School of Seamanship to establish and maintain an ongoing Foss-specific shiphandling and BRM refresher simulation program for the crews of the Delta Mariner.

Foss mariner Dan Daigle works in the simulator at Avtec in Seward, Alaska. He is operating the tug Iver Foss as it assists the tug Sandra Foss in moving a barge into the Red Dog Mine port.

In July of 2016 Foss made an agreement with Seattle Maritime Academy to support its training facility that gave us access to their facilities and simulator. As a result in September of 2016 we began working with the school to set up their simulator to have 360-degree visibility and ASD, Voith and conventional tug controls mirroring the layout of Foss’ diverse fleet of vessels.

The simulator will be available to Foss mariners for ship assist, escort, harbor barge movement and stern towing training scenarios in the available West Coast port databases. With the assistance of Capt. Paul Hendriks (NW Director of Operations), Foss Capts. Gary Smith, Dan Riser, David Corrie, By Igor Loch Vice President, Operations and Marine Assurance Rod Meyers and assist and simulator operator Nevin Garcia, we developed and tested numerous scenarios to ensure they provided a realistic training experience for the mariner.

The Hylebos waterway in Tacoma was modeled for the use of Seattle Foss crews to help fine tune skills for moving Schnitzer barges in and out of the area. Improvement and further development of regional operations will be an ongoing project even as the simulator is officially opened for use.

Currently Seattle Maritime is in the last phases of working with the simulator designer Transas to fine-tune the simulation of barge movements. We are planning an inaugural training session in June for Foss mariners to mark the official opening of the simulator for Foss.

Another Foss simulation project grew out of a visit to the AVTEC simulation facility in Seward in August of 2017. This facility had an extensive database of Western, Southwestern and Southeastern Alaskan ports. After discussions with and approval from Scott Merritt, chief operating officer of Foss, we approached AVTEC to develop a simulation of the Red Dog Port facility and the barges Noatak and Kivalina for operational training.

In mid-January of 2018, after initial setup, improvements were identified to create a realistic and valuable training experience. In early April of 2018 Capts. Gary May and Steve Creech were brought in to assist in the final review of the simulation.

The first official Foss Red Dog simulation class was held at AVTEC on April 24 and 25. Training on the system were Nate Jansma, Todd Wilson, Glen McVicker, Mike Ledrew, Don Daigle, Max Cota and Colin Smith with Gary May and Steve Creech providing support and guidance.

All personnel rotated through operating the towing tug and the assist tug while towing the barge into the load berth and alongside a ship. Personnel would also ride the barge during these maneuvers. A second session is scheduled for other Red Dog deck officers for the end of May prior to Red Dog crew-up. As part of Foss Maritime’s commitment to an incident-free operation, this Red Dog simulation will become a regular, annually scheduled preseason training for Red Dog personnel.

Editor’s Note: Capt. Igor Loch has long been a strong supporter of the use of simulators to promote safe vessel operations and has led the company’s efforts in that regard