College puts cruise firm’s officers on course for success

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College bosses in South Tyneside have put a major cruise firm’s officers on course for success.

Thomson Cruises has put 36 trainee officers through a new high-tech engine room and bridge simulator programme created by experts at South Shields Marine School.

The training saw the students take ships – virtually – into ports which the company uses, using the marine school’s advanced Kongsberg simulators.

This allowed participants to operate in working conditions comparable to those at sea while staying on dry land.

The training was co-ordinated by South Shields Marine School and Columbia Cruise Services (CCS), which manages Thomson’s ships.

Paul Wells, CCS’s senior cruise superintendent, said: “Thomson wanted its training to go beyond compliance.

“South Shields Marine School and its instructors have done an excellent job, and the technology they use is incredible. They took all our requirements and built that into the programme.

Mel Irving, advanced simulator manager at South Shields Marine School, which is the UK’s oldest maritime training centre and today part of South Tyneside College, said the programme involved building computer models of Thomson’s liners based on all engine and onboard data.

Capt Irving added: “South Shields Marine School has a world-wide reputation as a centre of excellence, and because of our ability to make our own ship models and our own area databases, we can offer this tremendous training opportunity.

“Thomson is very pleased with the superb instruction its officers are getting.

“We are really pleased to be able to give this service.”