Beyond Excitement And Euphoria, How Beneficial Is The Simulator Acquired By FCFMT

By Sylvanus OBASI, Lagos

March 28, 2024 is a remarkable day in the life and times of students, staff and stakeholders of the foremost marine school, the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology (FCFMT) as the college took delivery of a class A Full Mission Bridge Simulator acquired for practical training of the students.

In this Special Report, the Editor of PLATFORM REPORTERS, Sylvanus Obasi captures the excitement and euphoria with which the students and stakeholders received the simulator as well as the significance and benefits of the facility to the students in particular and Nigeria at large. 

It was an epoch making event for the school as the college cadets adorned their uniforms to welcome the array of guests and dignitaries who graced the occasion, amongst whom are: the Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria; Prof Garba Hammed; Representative of Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dayo Mobereola; Executive Director of Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research, Prof Sule Abiodun; Current President and Former President of Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Capt Tajudeen Aloa and Capt Adewale Ishola to mention but a few.

Addressing stakeholders and dignitaries at the Conference Hall of the College before taking them to the simulator for it’s unveiling, the Provost of the College, Dr Chuks Onuoha set the ball rolling for the occasion, highlighting the achievements of his administration since assumption of office in 2019. 

He said, “The college has made remarkable achievements in the infrastructural facilities and academic programmes. Prior to our assumption of office in 2019, the college has five programmes. To the glory of God, today, the college have 12 programmes including HND Nautical Science and HND Marine Engineering. All our proframmes are accredited by the National Board For Technical Education (NBTE). 

“The college is currently running on 24 hours solar power mini-grid. We have equally constructed 500 bed space hostels on four floors, ultra modern school of Engineering Building and Laboratory, amongst others. Two additional new campuses (Enugu and River State) have equally been established within the period”, he said.

Provost of the FCFMT, Dr Chuks Onuoha

Speaking on the issue of the day, the provost said, “Today’s occasion which is the handing over ceremony of Full Mission Bridget Simulator Class A, marked another landmark achievement in the life and times of this great institution. The significance of Simulator in enhancing the quality of training for seafarers cannot be over-emphasized. Our graduates can now compete favourably with their peers all over the world since maritime is a global activity.

“For decades, most of our graduates travel out of the country to acquire relevant skills in various areas of simulator training before they can write their Certificate of Competence (COC) thereby filtering away the much-needed foreign currency in Nigeria. Today’s occasion marks an end to such ventures if relevant bodies like NIMASA can come to the aid of the institution by giving the necessary certifications to run some of the programmes using this equipment”.

Speaking further, Dr Onuoha said, “Our graduates will now be better equipped  with necessary skills and knowledge in the art of ship handling and maneuvering, search and rescue, resource management, environmental sustainability, better and efficient fishing  techniques, using relevant equipment like the solar technology, Eco-sounder and Radar onboard vessel. Relevant skills and knowledge required for efficient use of equipment like GMDSS, ECDISS and ARPA-RADAR for safe navigation of vessels will be acquired thereby enhancing the productivity in the maritime and fisheries sub-sector of the economy”. 

EXCITEMENT & EUPHORIA: The session at the College Conference Hall was all about fine speeches by the provost and other guests and dignitaries who took turns to eulogise the management of the college for achieving the feat. But the session at the Practical room where the Simulator was installed, unveiled and test-run was all about excitement, euphoria and enthusiasm by both the students, staff,  guests and stakeholders who could not hide their joy for witnessing the occasion. 

In separate short interviews by PLATFORM REPORTERS, some lecturers, and students expressed their excitements thus:

E. E  Oludare, Acting H.O.D, Nautical Science dept of FCFMT.

Mrs E. E  Oludare, Acting H.O.D, Nautical Science dept said, “I am full of excitement. I am privileged to say that during my regime this feat has been achieved. It’s actually something that is challenging. I mean pushing us to do more. So I see it as a challenge for us to do more for the students, to graduate students who are well trained”. 

On his own, Capt Olumuyiwa  Oguntoyinbo, Principal Instructor and an alumnus of the College said, “The full mission bridge simulator is something we have been clamouring for many years because most of our students are unable to get cadetship, but with the simulator, we will be able to give them some sort of sea-like experience, what they are going to see at sea, we can simulate with the simulator. So today is a great day for us that we have a full bridge simulator. And we are happy about it”.

A HND 1 Nautical Science student, Miss Olagunju Oyindamola Miracle also expressed her joy for the facility, saying, “I feel very overwhelmed because before now, it has always been more of the theory aspect, we have always been listening to it, but we are not seeing the practical aspect and how it actually works. But with the new simulator now installed in our school, I believe we are not only going to be doing the theory aspect, the practical aspect will be kind of mandatory for us, she said”. 

Also expressing his excitement for the simulator, the President of Nautical Science Students Association of the College, Ayoola Owuyole said, “I feel very positive and delighted about it because it’s a very big development for the college and for the students. Before now, most of our training has always been abstract. But with this full mission bridge simulator, we will now have the opportunity to see it practical. So I am very happy”, he said.  

Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, Engr Garba Hammed cutting a tape to unveil the full mission bridge simulator acquired by FCFMT recently.

SIGNIFICANCE: The significance of the Simulator in the training of cadets was aptly captured by some of the maritime dignitaries who spoke to PLATFORM REPORTERS at the occasion.  First was Capt Tajudeen Aloa, President of Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMMs) who captured it thus: 

Capt Tajudeen Aloa, President of Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMMs)

“Marine is knowledge-driven; marine is technology-driven.  Simulator came about 30 years ago. It is not a replacement to the actual sea-time onboard, but it is a first step for the students to get a feeler of what life onboard is all about. 

“It’s a remission of sea-time. With Simulator, if you are supposed to have 36 months sea-time, it can be reduced to two and half years because you have what it feels like to sail at night, during the day, in all weather and in all conditions, safety measures, navigation- wise. So it brings technology onboard ashore to impact on the students and to make them to be well prepared”, he said.

The acting H.O.D Nautical Science department of the College, Mrs E.E Oludare also hinted on the significance of simulator, saying, “The significance of the Simulator is that it will make them to be more prepared. The mission bridge simulator is meant to prepare them virtually. It is used for virtual training to prepare and train them ahead of what is expected of them in real situations and scenarios very well before they even graduate”. 

She added that training with Simulator would also build the confidence of students in handling any real life situations when onboard. 

Also speaking on the significance of the simulator in training marine students, Former President, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Capt Adewale Ishola maintained that the students were lucky to have simulator to train with unlike what was obtainable during their own time. 

Former President, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Capt Adewale Ishola

“I will say the current students are very lucky because the problem we have been facing is sea-time. This can substitute sea-time for sometime. It gives them introduction to what they are going to face at sea. So they are lucky to have a pre-knowledge of what the sea is going to be like, this is unlike our own days.

“From Lagos here, the ship took us to U.K and we faced it squarely. Without going to any Simulator, we went straight to sea without knowing the impact of what we are going to face.   Some of us ran back home, out of 24 of us 2 ran back home, saying they can’t do the job. 

“But the Simulator prepares your mind in a more practical way, such that you now see the extend of the job you are going to do. So this is a very good learning tool, a great foundation of what you are going to see at sea”, he noted. 

The newly acquired Class A Full Mission Bridge Simulator acquired by FCFMT

BENEFITS: While the significance and relevance  of the Simulator in cadets training cannot be over-emphasized, the benefits of the newly acquired Full Mission Bridge Simulator to the students, the college, maritime sector in particular and Nigeria at large were well captured by the Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, Prof Garba Hammed. 

Speaking to PLATFORM REPORTERS in a brief interview at the occasion, he enumerated three major benefits of the simulator to include Training of students; Revenue Generation and Cost Reduction for the government. 

According to him, “Apart from the development of the students, the simulator is also a revenue earner for the college. I can tell you for free that it takes not less than three million Naira just to have a student exposed to this facility. This school has over 2000 students and if you multiply that by 3 million, it’s quite a humongous amount of money. 

“But that is not even the issue. Simulation facilities are not many in this country. And so, in the past, we have to take our students outside the country to go and learn through the simulator. So by installing this facility here, we have eased the Hon Minister from the enormous amount of money he would have spent. 

“Secondly, because we have this one here, and you know that Lagos is birthing a lot of ships and so we have a lot of trainees and training institutions by private individuals that will have access to these facilities for a fee, and of course my Hon Minister would like the fee to be meagre and if that is the case, you know that the simulator is both an earner and also limiting excessive expenditure as well as training of the students”, he stated. 

In Part 2 of this Special Report, PLATFORM REPORTERS aims to expose how much it cost FCFMT to acquire the Class A Full Mission Bridge Simulator, the challenges encountered by the management of the College in the process of the acquisition, as well as ascertain how much each students would pay if the management of the college plans to charge students for training with the Simulator. Watch out for the part 2 coming up shortly.

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