SUPERTANKER officers will be taught how to steer clear of icebergs and navigate the world’s most challenging ports using a state-of-the-art simulator opened in Glasgow today by Teekay Shipping.
The move by one of the world’s largest liquid gas shipping firms is aimed at maintaining such tankers’ “spotless” safety record as its £8 billion fleet nearly doubles in size over the next six years to meet rocketing global demand.
The simulator is a mock-up of the bridge of a tanker, which can display a variety of sea conditions and the entrances to harbours such as New York and Sydney.
Teekay said it would be used to train some 200 seafarers a year, which is projected to double by 2020 when it expects to have increased its 34 vessels to nearly 60.
The current fleet, which is run from Glasgow, is large enough to supply nearly one third of the UK’s energy demand.
Teekay Shipping (Glasgow) managing director John Adams said the centre was also expected to provide a significant boost to the Glasgow’s economy, since the officers from across the world undergoing some two weeks’ training earn up to £100,000 a year.
The base also employs nearly 100 people, 60 of whom work on gas.
David Glendinning, president of Vancouver-based Teekay Gas Services, who opened the centre in Finnieston, said the firm would continue to grow because gas was clean, plentiful, and cheaper and greener than oil.
However, he warned that growth depended on the industry maintaining its “spotless” safety record, so rigorous training was vital.
He said: “We are just now entering the golden age of gas - the global energy of the future.
“We are excited about our future growth opportunities, and ensuring we have an ongoing supply of highly trained seafarers is critical to that success.”
Andrew Clifton, head of the Society of International
Gas Terminal and Tanker Operators, said public confidence in safety was essential.
He said: “The simulator creates highly-realistic circumstances which provides a risk-free alternative to real-life training.”
Mr Clifton said there had been no deaths and no such tanker had spilled its cargo, which he described as a “completely unprecedented” safety record.
Nautilus, the main seafarers’ union, welcomed the simulator, but said more of the staff being trained there should be recruited in Britain.
Its spokesman said: “The UK Government has been warned the UK will face a shortage of as many as 5,000 deck and engineer officers by 2021.
“So, while we warmly welcome Teekay’s investment in infrastructure, we hope it will be matching it with investment in people – and recruiting a new generation of British seafarers at these facilities.”
Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson said: “This move will further boost our reputation as a leader in cargo operations and navigation.”