Renee Marazon, President, The Maritime Academy of Toledo, has announced a landmark agreement with VSTEP B.V. of Rotterdam in The Netherlands that will provide new simulators for the school and allow VSTEP to establish the first NAUTIS maritime simulation demonstration center in the U.S.
VSTEP is an international company that specializes in maritime training simulation technology. They have a U.S. sales office in Annapolis, Md.
The agreement calls for a new state-of-the-art, NAUTIS full-mission-bridge simulator and radar simulation classroom to be installed on the second floor of One Maritime Plaza, with additional NAUTIS simulators added in the multi-phased project expected to last through 2017.
VSTEP will showcase Toledo as a “VSTEP/NAUTIS Simulation Center,” their state-of-the-art simulator technology.
The current navigation, radar, and engine room simulators, donated to The Maritime Academy in 2010 by the American Maritime Officers’ (AMO) Union were rendered useless in October 2012, when they were damaged as the result of a power fault from an underground transformer explosion near the intersection of Summit and Walnut streets. The AMO simulators were more than 20 years old when they were damaged.
“For more than eight months, we searched for a company suited and willing to help us replace the current simulators, at a cost we could afford while we wait for our insurance claim to be paid,” Marazon said. “We negotiated with several companies who simply wanted too much money. VSTEP was able to provide us with the highest standard of simulation, but at an affordable price. ”
The project was discussed with VSTEP’s NAUTIS Maritime Simulation Division in late July and VSTEP staff made a site visit to determine the suitability of the Maritime Academy campus to serve as demonstration center. Within two months, a partnership was forged that is beneficial to both parties.
Toledo Mayor, Michael P. Bell called the agreement a “win-win” for both The Maritime Academy and VSTEP.
“What a great story. Here we had a school in need of simulators, and an international company that need a place to demonstrate their simulator technology in the United States. They worked out this agreement, and we are proud that they are in Toledo. This is great,” said Mayor Bell.
“Toledo was a perfect fit for VSTEP as a NAUTIS Simulation Center. Toledo is 45 minutes from an international airport and is centrally located on the Great Lakes. Once the new simulators are installed, VSTEP will use Toledo as a technology demonstration center for its customers in the region,” Marazon said.
“The cadets at The Maritime Academy of Toledo did not have simulator training for most of last school year,” Marazon said. “We faced the possibility again of this entire school year without simulators. This would have a negative impact on our cadets in the Maritime Career Tech Education (CTE) Program, particularly those students taking Navigation I and Navigation II courses. But thanks to VSTEP we will have working simulators this school year.”
The project is expected to be implemented through 2017 in four phases. The first phase will include a Class-A Full-Mission Bridge simulator and a simulation radar classroom for 16 students both of which are certified for U.S. Coast Guard approved courses. These simulators are expected to be up and running by January 2014. Additional phases include a tug boat simulator, crane simulator, and eventually an engine room simulator.
“Our new VSTEP simulators will allow not only our cadets to get the best training possible, but also allow us to expand our professional mariner training courses,” said Marazon.
“In partnering with VSTEP, The Maritime Academy agreed to changes with the current bridge layout on the Second Floor at One Maritime Plaza. The first phase of the project will involve some minor re-configuring of the current bridge layout. We will be redesigning some of the consoles used for monitors and in general expanding the current layout to meet the VSTEP installation requirements,” she said.
Financing for the upgrades was negotiated between The Maritime Academy of Toledo and VSTEP. The terms call for The Maritime Academy of Toledo to commit approximately $100,000 to launch the project and the remainder financed over 10 years with a cost effective subscription model for the simulators.
“If you look at what it would have cost to purchase and install all these simulators, plus licensing and other fees, we would be looking at upwards of one million dollars. However VSTEP worked with The Maritime Academy to make this much more affordable over the 10-year period,” Marazon said.
To help with funding, The Maritime Academy Foundation announced a five-year Capital Campaign.