Thanks to the help of two local unions, the Maritime Academy of Toledo’s new simulator project is on course for completion.
Maritime Academy President Renee Marazon recently lauded Carpenter’s Local 351 and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 8 for donating both labor and materials to redevelop space for the school’s new simulator project.
Last September, the Maritime Academy entered into a landmark agreement with VSTEP B.V. of Rotterdam in The Netherlands – an international company that specializes in maritime training simulation technology – that will provide new simulators for the school, and would also allow VSTEP to establish its first NAUTIS maritime simulation demonstration center in the U.S.
The first phase of the project calls for a Class-A Full-Mission Bridge simulator and a simulation radar classroom for 16 students – both certified for U.S. Coast Guard approved courses.
As part of the agreement, the Maritime Academy needed to redevelop its space on the second floor of One Maritime Plaza where the American Maritime Officer’s (AMO) Union had installed maritime simulators more than 20 years ago.
The work, which was necessary for VSTEP to start the installation of the new simulators, was finished earlier this month, to coincide with the arrival of VSTEP engineers’ arrival in Toledo to start the next phase of the project.
“Before the new simulators in the first phase could be installed, we needed to do redevelopment work,” Marazon said. “We met with the Carpenters Local 351 and IBEW Local 8. Both unions agreed to donate labor for the redevelopment.
“The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) donated $5,000 for electrical materials. The Maritime Academy of Toledo deeply appreciates this strong showing of community support,” said Marazon.
Over the past two months, nearly 20 members of the Carpenters Union Local 351 and some of their contractors worked daily to build new bridge walls, paint the bridge simulator area, raise the floor for the new simulator, remove walls from the radar classroom, paint the radar classroom, and install new ceilings in the bridge and radar classroom.
The carpenters also donated and laid new carpeting for the radar simulator room, and donated materials for the new simulator consoles. In total, their donation amounted to more than 690 hours of labor.
Workers with IBEW Local 8 reviewed all electrical requirements for the new simulators. Electricians moved existing outlets and moved and installed electrical requirements for the new bridge simulator and radar equipment – amounting to 120 hours of labor.
The work done by the unions sets the stage for an engineering team from VSTEP/NAUTIS to start work on the first phase of the project, which includes installing the state-of-the-art, NAUTIS full-mission-bridge simulator and radar simulation Class-A bridge simulator, along with simulation software.
A majority of that work should be completed by early February. The entire project is expected to be implemented in four phases through 2017.
In addition to the donations from the unions, the Maritime Academy of Toledo received a $30,000 economic development grant from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority in November to help fund the project.
“I am deeply appreciative that the Carpenters Union Local 351 and IBEW Local 8 agreed to help us with this project. We only had $30,000 and a short period of time to complete the reconfiguration of the second floor at One Maritime Plaza,” Marazon said. “Certainly, without their donations, we would have never completed the reconfiguration on time.
“Their participation assures that the first phase of the project will be completed on time and that our cadets will have new simulators to train on yet this school year,” she said.
Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins visited the site to see the redevelopment work and to express his appreciation for the unions’ donations.
“This is an outstanding partnership between labor and education. I want to thank the Carpenters Local 351 and the IBEW Local 8, as well as their contractors for volunteering their support to the Maritime Academy of Toledo and this simulator project which is important to Toledo,” Collins said. “This project will benefit not only high school students but also professional mariners in need of continuing education.”
Mike Gibson (on stilts) installs ceiling tiles at the Maritime Academy of Toledo while Ray Laraby, treasurer of Carpenters Local 351 and Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins look on. (Photo courtesy of the Maritime Academy of Toledo)