HMCS Malahat commandeers Esquimalt facility for virtual simulation training

Lieutenant-Commander Anne Gardam, HMCS Malahat’s Executive Officer, keeps a watchful eye on junior members of HMCS Malahat taking part in NABs simulation training at CFB Esquimalt on Nov. 10.

Lt(N) Donald Den, 
HMCS Malahat PAO

During the evening of Nov. 10, members of Victoria’s Naval Reserve Division (NRD) HMCS Malahat, including several Naval Warfare Officers (NWOs), Naval Communicators (NavComms), and Naval Combat Information Operators (NCIOps), took part in virtual ship training at CFB Esquimalt.

The Naval Officer Training Centre’s Navigation and Bridge Simulator, or ‘NABS’ for short, is a series of virtual training platforms at the Base that accurately replicate the displays and visuals of a bridge on a Royal Canadian Navy ship at sea. Linked to a separate control room running the simulation, ‘bridges’ can conduct navigation, contact avoidance, communications, and other tasks as if they were at sea.

Along with all the proper equipment on the bridge with the appropriate scaled space and seating, the NABS offers a 360-degree realistic field of view, using multiple monitors to simulate an ‘at-sea’ environment. NABS also uses a high-accuracy virtual environment, simulating real-world locations, including realistic land masses, sea depths, and even the type and class of vessel a sailor would likely encounter in that location.

Using this customized programming, Malahat members can work on skills in a controlled environment so they are better positioned when out at sea.

“Having the simulator is invaluable to maintaining skills that quickly fade while ashore,” notes Lt(N) David Marrack, Deputy Operations Officer. “It is a huge resource for Malahat as an NRD with personnel who may not have the time to dedicate to prolonged refresher sails.”

Beginning with basic refresher training on contact avoidance and navigation, the two Malahat bridge teams worked on conducting Officer of the Watch Maneuvers in simulated Orca-class vessels. While NavComms trained to transmit, decode and record messages, trainee NWOs maneuvered the ‘ship’ and provided reports to the senior officer on the bridge.

This NABs training session was set up to provide some of Malahat’s junior members with valuable first-hand experience in a simulated-bridge environment.

“The simulator is an excellent opportunity to work with mentors and bridge team members of varying skills,” said Acting Sub-Lieutenant Ryan Delainey, a NWO trainee. “I personally gain a lot of different perspectives from other NWOs with a range of operational experience to help build my critical decision-making skills while driving ships.”

Malahat’s Commanding Officer and Executive Officer, both NWOs, accompanied the team for training, acting as the senior officer for each team. “By being in close proximity to Esquimalt, our sailors are able to take advantage of this facility to sharpen their sea skills,” said Commander Cameron Miller, Malahat’s Commanding Officer. “Being in NABs provides an excellent opportunity for some of our junior members to gain experience.”

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