Sea Education Association students prepare for life underway using state of the art nautical simulation from Wartsila Corporation.

By Capt. Chris Nolan

Life at sea is challenging for new mariners – the first voyage is often likened to “drinking from a fire hose.”   Whether learning the fundamentals of helm and lookout duties, or simply how to live and work at sea, new mariners in the modern age can leverage new tools to help them prepare.

Sea Education Association students have been going to sea for 50 years on sailing school vessels, and one of the first jobs of SEA students is learning how to serve at the helm and as a lookout.  In modern parlance, these jobs are part of what is known as “Ratings Forming Part of a Navigational Watch,” or RFPNW.

While there is no replacing time at the actual wheel, or time spent staring into the distance looking for vessels and hazards, students are better prepared for life at sea when they can experience cultivated bits of it on land.

Nautical simulation is a powerful tool that has served professional mariners well for decades.  In fact, many required courses and competencies for professional mariners are now met in full mission bridge or part task simulators at maritime training providers throughout the world.

However only recently has technology become available that could bring nautical simulation to a wider audience.  Wartsila Corporation has developed cloud-based nautical simulation, which allows users to leverage technology to bypass investment in simulation infrastructure.  Instead, teachers and students can use laptops or existing school computing technology to simulate maritime environments from any classroom.

Recently, Wartsila Corporation, a leading provider of maritime solutions and technology, and Practical Navigator Training, a small U.S. based maritime training provider, have teamed up to offer cloud simulation technology to Sea Education Association students.

Although SEA students are not seeking professional credentials, they benefit from learning RFPNW tasks during their six-week “shore component” before heading to the sailing school vessels Robert C. Seamans or Corwith Cramer.

By completing RFPWN tasks such as basic helm commands and lookout procedures during the shore component, students are better prepared for arrival at the ships for their initial duties, allowing them to feel more comfortable joining the crew, as well as freeing up valuable “brain space” for learning other tasks.

Beyond helm and lookout training, Wartsila’s simulation technology also allows SEA students to gain familiarity with radar, collision avoidance, and charting procedures, providing an opportunity to explore seagoing career tracks and job possibilities.

Above all, this new cloud-based technology and the instructors who leverage it provide a more immersive, fun and professional atmosphere to take traditional “nautical science” classes into the future.

Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications | 508-444-1918 | |

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