Bridge Simulator boosts BWC certifications

Published on LEUT Kelli Lunt (author), ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Watson, Sydney

Topic(s): HMAS Watson, Training

Sub Lieutenant Daniel Camparini in training for his Bridge Warfare Certificate Phase IV in Bridge Alpha, Full Mission Simulator at HMAS Watson in Sydney. (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
Sub Lieutenant Daniel Camparini in training for his Bridge Warfare Certificate Phase IV in Bridge Alpha, Full Mission Simulator at HMAS Watson in Sydney.

Last year Navy took the bold step of embracing simulation in an area that many thought was ‘a sacred cow’. The decision to award the Bridge Warfare Certificate (BWC) using simulation ashore represented an enormous shift in the way that Navy trained Junior Warfare Application Course (JWAC) officers.

The JWAC training package was extended from five to 17 weeks, with officers graduating in December 2012 with the award of their BWC after an intensive training and assessment program in the Bridge Simulator at HMAS Watson.

Nine graduates from the first group to conduct the new training package have since been awarded their platform endorsement (PE) and Primary Qualification (PQ) within the Fleet – averaging approximately 190 hours for an FFG/FFH and HS/MHC within 3.5 months.

Director Training Authority Maritime Warfare CAPT Will Martin said although it was early days, both the statistics and the implementation of the changes to shore attained qualifications were encouraging.

“I’ve been encouraged by the approach of these MWOs who have joined their ships, readily transferred their skills and knowledge from simulation based training to the bridge and achieved their platform endorsement in really good time.” CAPT Martin said.

“Everyone who graduates now has a consistent level of warfare exposure and training in this improved setting. There’s better structure, more focus and less wastage of time and resources. The reduced burden on ships to conduct the training is another enormous benefit of this new regime.”

Each student conducts 25 individual serials as Officer of the Watch (OOW) totalling 64 hours with the con. Each runs for between one and four hours and includes pilotage and coastal navigation activity however the main focus is on warfare With six students in each watch this equates to 384 hrs of exposure to high tempo serials. Each OOW has three high calibre instructors consisting of a Senior PWO/Long Nav, OOW Bridge Instructor and Communications expert; ensuring that each student receives the maximum training and feedback advantages. Unlike at sea, there is no down time.

Additionally, ’off-watch’ theory and practical assignments must also be completed.

Training is delivered by 24 instructors from a combined team of Navy and Serco personnel. The Serco personnel are all former CIS, PWO or Navigation sub-specialists.

CAPT Martin highlights, however, that early consolidation of warfare and mariner skills is necessary for the MWOs to further advance.

“Consolidation of skills at sea in the first year following Platform Endorsement is the key to this set up and will be critical to further development of deep and complex warfare knowledge.”

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20130649.