we are sufficiently prepared for our first unit following
graduation,” Schroeder said.
CDR Michael Turdo, head of the Professional
Maritime Studies branch at the Coast Guard Academy,
said cadet training on the simulators is an integral part
of their education.
“It’s a controlled environment here and you can
come in, make mistakes, ask questions and have your
peers there to help you along before going onto a
ship,” he said.
As a cadet works his or her way through the simulator
program, Turdo said their development is easy to see.
“We are looking for that moment where the lightbulb
goes on. If we didn’t have simulators it would be tough
to practice the things we do and make sure everyone
knows what they should, and know operational safety
requirements as well,” he said.
The two large cutter bridge systems have radar and
chart plotting equipment, as well as 360-degree graphics
displays to simulate typical surroundings for underway
watch-standing duties and tasking. They include equipment, radios and generic helm controls and other items
commonly found throughout the Coast Guard’s fleet.
The scenarios can be set up for 30 locations in the
United States and abroad, utilizing 30 Navy and Coast
Guard virtual ship possibilities. The six available training platforms are the 410-foot National Security
Cutter, 378-foot High-Endurance Cutter, 270-foot
Medium-Endurance Cutter, 87-foot Patrol Boat, 47-
foot Motor Lifeboat and 25-foot Response Boat-Small.
Anywhere from five to 12 people can be on a bridge at one time.
The smaller simulators also can
serve as a full bridge.
The last major technical upgrade
to the simulators occurred in 1996,
and Turdo is hopeful that a facelift
will occur in the years ahead. The
branch chief said the current simulator setup is meeting the academy’s mission needs, but there is
always a concern that it will not
down the road.
“We are actively pursuing to recapitalize and hope over the next
couple of years that funding will
become available for the upgrade,”
That price tag is expected to be
around $5 million for the facility.
Cadets are not the only ones who
find value in the simulators. Coast
CDR Mark Walsh, chief of the Command and Operations School at the Coast Guard Academy’s Leadership
and Development Center, said it is important for people
to have the right mindset when they go back out to sea.
The simulators help.
“They are extremely important, as it’s a way to get people back into the thought process because we do rotate
around the Coast Guard, and some people might not have
been on a ship for five to seven years, so we use this time
to get everyone back into the right thinking,” he said.
The center offers a two-week, 75-hour course that is
designed to prepare personnel to serve as senior leadership on board all classes of cutters. The course provides
training to students in receipt of orders to initial assignment as commanding officer, officer-in-charge, executive
officer and executive petty officer, while concurrently
refreshing perishable skills for those students who have
previously served in command cadre positions.
Major topic areas focus on command and leadership
imperatives, development of professional maritime
skills, as well as policy and procedural information relevant to senior leaders in the cutter fleet. A variety of
simulation training also is available at the major Coast
Guard training centers.
“Sometimes, the simulator is an eye opener for the
old souls, but at the end of the day we are doing the
best we can to produce someone whose service ready,”
Walsh said. ;
29 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / DECEMBER 2015
U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets train inside the Ship’s Control and Navigation System (SCANTS) at the academy in New London, Conn., April 24,
2014. SCANTS simulates the operations conducted on a ship’s bridge.