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Mariners practise on a French lake as narrow as Suez Canal


Navigating a narrow canal became a key skill for mariners after the Suez Canal disaster

This French lake was constructed to train ship captains and maritime pilots to navigate the Suez Canal after the Ever Given incident. Francois Mayor, managing director of the Port Revel training facility nudged back on the power and made a subtle adjustment on the wheel as he coaxed his cargo vessel through a narrow point in a replica of the Egyptian canal in the middle of a French forest.

Spiked interest in navigating narrow routes
This “training route” is built to the scale of 1:25 of a section of the real McCoy. Trainees will steer through scale models of massive container ships without getting stuck. Mayor said, “It is a bit hard to recreate sandstorms. However, we have gusts of wind which will push our ship to one side or another. You have little space to manoeuvre and have to be particularly focussed.”

Located in the foothills of the Alps, this facility is designed to replicate some of the trickiest spots in global shipping. Instructors will simulate steering problems and engine outages to observe the trainees’ reactions. There is also a mini-San Francisco Bay, and an imitation Port Arthur in Texas, for lessons on docking and manoeuvring cruise ships and tankers in crowded ports. Underwater turbines replicate currents and waves.

Mayor expects the Ever Given incident to prompt shipping companies to send their staff for refresher courses. He added, “After each accident, we see new clients coming. The cost of training at Port Revel is nothing like the cost of having a vessel like that stuck for a day.”




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