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Making virtual shipboard training accessible to all

Photo: Marcus Hand Angus Ferguson Founder of Onboard Maritime
Angus Ferguson Founder of Onboard Maritime
Onboard Maritime is aiming to make virtual training for seafarers accessible to all with a new PC-based solution.

Speaking to Angus Ferguson, Founder of Onboard Maritime at Seatrade Maritime Crew Connect Global 2023, he notes they are the only training company that does not have a VR headset as part of its equipment. Rather than its new Virtual Training Shipping is run from a gaming laptop with a £10 X-Box controller.

“The whole point about this, that we set out is to make quality education and really accessible to everyone. So really, we really focused on the cost,” Ferguson explains.

The Virtual Training Ship has been developed by programmers on the game engine Unity.

Unlike more complex offerings in the market with VR headsets that aim to simulate real life Onboard Maritime’s software is designed to provide what he describes as an “adaptive learning” environment.

The learning environment allows companies to create different scenarios where trainees can disassemble and reassemble individual pieces of equipment and Ferguson says the option are essentially limitless.

“So ,people can then focus in and to build up their depth of knowledge. And it's and it's a really cost effective doing it this way because you don't need the actual piece of kit in front of you,” he explains.

The Virtual Training Ship can be customised to an individual owner’s vessels. “So, when you're wandering around the scene on the ship, we can embed company procedures and you actually see exactly what you would see on a ship.”

Onboard Maritime is also working with South Shields Marine School in the UK to co-create materials so it’s aligned to their curriculum and syllabus.

For those who have a more casual interest in a shipping a more mainstream version of the software will be made available on the Steam gaming platform. This will go down the gamification route with a mix of educational and more fun elements putting it into the serious or applied games category.