Image of the screens that make up the ship simulator at the LJMU Maritime Centre.


LJMU Maritime Centre

LJMU Martime Centre's Facilities

At the heart of the Centre is our ship-handling and tug simulator, ECDIS suite and GMDSS suite

The Centre has an exceptional array of marine training facilities, including its two ship-handling and escort tug simulators located in Liverpool and Birkenhead. In addition to our own facilities, we also partner with other training providers to ensure our learners are given access to the latest technologies and training environments. Our main facilities are highlighted below.

Our facilities 

Ship-handling simulator suite 1 - LMC Birkenhead

Utilising Kongsberg Norcontrol Polaris setup, this ship-handling simulator suite located in Birkenhead consists of three bridges, one with a 360° field-of-view visual system. The projection system allows for an extremely realistic representation of the view from a ship’s bridge and is far superior to simulators where the view is required to be rotated to obtain 360° coverage.

The only simulator of its kind in the UK, it is also among the most advanced in Europe. The simulator software and hardware are constantly upgraded to continue to meet the training demands from the maritime industry.

Ship-handling simulator suite 2 – Byrom Street

Supplied by Transas, this simulator consists of five bridges with the primary bridge configured to 360° field-of-view. A full mission engine room simulator is located next to the bridges which can be used as a standalone simulator for training marine engineers in skills related to engine room watch-keeping. This facility has the capability to connect the bridges with the engine room and thus train both deck and engineer officers simultaneously.

ECDIS suite – Byrom Street

Our Transas ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems) suite located in James Parsons’ Building on Byrom Street is fitted with 10 stations. Originally set up to meet the demands for ECDIS training, this facility provides a full mission desktop simulation solution for navigational training. Primarily used for junior watchkeeping officers and for ECDIS training, this facility is also used for the NAEST Operational course for merchant navy and yacht deck officers.

GMDSS, LICOS and ECDIS suite – LMC Birkenhead

Additional facilities similar to the ECDIS suite on Byrom Street are located in LMC Birkenhead. These facilities include LICOS (Liquid Cargo Operations Simulator) as well GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) training equipment.

About the bridge simulators

Both bridge simulator training suites enable marine pilots, shipmasters and senior navigating officers to develop and practice their skills in a realistic but risk- free environment. These facilities are equally used by junior officers to learn navigational skills prior to undertaking watch-keeping duties on-board ships. 

These state-of-the-art simulators allow us to place navigational officers in geographically-accurate virtual environments aboard one of the eight ship bridges, which respond and react just like one would expect at sea. 

The main bridge’s 360° field-of-view allows mariners to practice approaching locks and berths, connecting tugs and bringing vessels of all types and sizes safely alongside, incorporating any number of mechanical failures and breakdowns.

Ship-handling software

Both the Kongsberg Norcontrol Polaris Bridge as well as the Transas simulator are readily configurable for specific ship types using ship-modelling software.  The software, which manages the simulation environment, includes comprehensive and fully configurable overlays. These allow for correctly positioned buoys, interactive tides, currents, geographically-variable wind, sea and swell. Changing conditions such as light, visibility, fog and rain, enhance the feeling of reality and fidelity.

Ship-handling hardware

The bridge panels and units can also be repositioned or replaced for specific ship type training. Hardware such as this provides a realistic simulation stage for training, research and role-play, all in a totally safe environment.

Secondary bridges 

The two secondary bridges with of suite 1, suite 2 and suite 4 allow for interactive single and multiple- ship training scenarios to take place simultaneously, enhancing the experience for learners.

Each bridge comprises the latest electronic navigational aids such as: Radar, ECDIS, GPS, Loran and AIS. When these aids are combined with a fully functioning GMDSS communications system the bridges become as realistic and modern as possible.

Escort tug simulator

In 2003 we installed the UK's first full active escort tug simulator on our Kongsberg simulator in suite 1. The Kongsberg Maritime Ship Systems AS allows tug masters to learn how to escort large ships in a completely safe, simulated environment. 

The equipment has a 120° full mission ship's bridge simulator fitted with Z-drive controllers and detailed tug models. This links to two further bridge simulators, allowing complete communication and interaction between the tug, pilot and ship teams. The equipment enables tug captains to rehearse active escort towage and berthing of oil tankers in total safety.

About the engine room simulator

Our Transas engine room simulator is located in the James Parsons Building on Byrom Street. This facility can be used to train and assess the competence of engineer officers of all ranks. It can be used with several models of main and auxiliary propulsion machinery to provide training for equipment familiarisation, control systems, automation and safety, emission control, normal watchkeeping routines, fuel management as well as resource management in normal or emergency situations.

The engine room simulation facilities consists of:

Multi-purpose classroom

Several PCs are utilised in this classroom to familiarise candidates with the engines and machinery they are likely to work with prior to being put in the full mission engine room simulator. This room is also used for lecturing as well as for debrief upon completion of the simulation exercise.

Engine control room

This is the heart of the engine room operations’ simulation where touch screen controls are utilised to operate and manage the main as well as auxiliary machinery and systems. Additional realism is achieved by the use of real controls where required.

Engine room

The engine room itself is replicated on 3D touch screens that affords a sense of realism by allowing learners to virtually walk through the machinery spaces. 

Emergency switchboard room

Touchscreen panels, real switchboards combined with circuit breakers provide a realistic mimicry of the ship’s engine room.

Instructor station

Multiple computers are used to load different models of the ship, ranging from super yachts to VLCCs. The instructor not only controls the exercises from this station but also communicates with learners when the simulator is being used in separation from the bridge simulators. This is where the instructor can introduce faults into the system to evaluate learners’ ability to take the required actions to resolve the situation. When delivered for senior engineer officers, this type of scenario can be utilised to highlight significant requirements for the ‘engine room resource management’.

Fun morning getting 360° snaps of the 360° ship-handling simulator at @LJMU's Maritime Knowledge Hub. - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA