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Extension of the Port Revel Shiphandling Training Centre
in 2009

Our colleague, Captain F.X. Pizon, visited the new facilities and tried out the model of the Otello

       The Port Revel Shiphandling Training Centre extended its lake in 2009, forty-three years after it first opened. The lake now measures 5 hectares, 70% of which reproduces to scale actual depths of less than 27.50m, along with the most frequently encountered port access difficulties. With the installation of additional marine current-generating systems, half of the lake area is now subject to current effects.

       The fleet of models has also been expanded, with the commissioning of an 8400 TEU container carrier and a 266,000 m3 LNG carrier, at the same scale of 1:25.

       The accuracy with which manoeuvring conditions are reproduced is just as remarkable and, since the scaling laws are rigorously applied, the 1:5 reduction in time scale requires quick reactions, sharpening the students’ responsiveness.

       The principle of training on real models offers the advantage of consistent visual and physical perception, corresponding exactly to actual manoeuvring conditions: the effects of physical elements are felt directly, without the need for computers. Furthermore, risk and danger factors are perceived constantly, due to the simple fact that the risks of a fault or grounding are all too real.


       The aim of extending the lake (to the north of the existing facilities) and doubling the number of quays was to increase substantially the number of students who can be accommodated simultaneously (10-12 students per week, compared with eight previously) and reproduce even the trickiest manoeuvring conditions they are liable to encounter in the world’s major ports.


Two large ships have just joined the 1:25 fleet, taking the total number of ships to 11:

The Otello, an 8400 TEU container carrier, 334m long, 42.8m wide, 14.50m draught and a propeller providing 93,300 hp.

The Q-MAX, a 266,000 m3 LNG carrier, 345 metres long, 54 m wide, 12m draught and 2 propellers providing 44,000 hp.

       The reproduction accuracy is impressive, in terms of the hull shapes, adaptable powers and responses during manoeuvres. Students make the transition from the model to the actual ship (or vice-versa) almost immediately, since their previously acquired shiphandling reflexes can be applied instantaneously.

       All the models except for the Normandie and the Otello can be configured with either a diesel engine or a steam turbine, and the Normandie can be steered from a bridge located either in the rear quarter of its length or at the front, as is the case with a cruise liner or a car carrier. The various configurations hence allow a total of 20 different ships to be reproduced.

       All these models are fitted with the instruments and equipment found on board the actual ships:
  • a "bridge" comprising:
    • helm,
    • engine remote control,
    • helm angle and engine speed indicators,
    • electronic log,
    • compass,
    • wind vane and anemometer,
    • control of bow and stern transverse thrusters (these thrusters can simulate the action of conventional tugs),
    • remote control of windlasses for anchor dropping,
  • an engine, consisting of an electric motor supplied by a series of batteries that also represent part of the ballast,
  • a rudder (one model is equipped with a Schilling rudder and another with a Becker rudder),
  • a bow thruster (most of the models also have a stern thruster),
  • windlasses and mooring lines (anchors and chains),
  • hawsers.
  • Rudder and engine response times are obviously respected and to scale, as is the engine "power", which can be adjusted in order to simulate turbine or diesel engine propulsion.


       Irrespective of the geographical constraints, port regulations increasingly require the use of tugs in order to minimise the risks inherent to the enormous size of modern ships, within ports that are often designed to be as compact as possible.

       Three models are equipped with different propulsion modes (Voith and Z drive) and manoeuvring modes (Voith Turbo Fin), enabling all the usual manoeuvres to be reproduced and, if necessary, new ones to be tried out. They are adjusted for 50-70 t bollard pull.

         At the same time as the actual tug, a model is currently being developed using Novatug’s new "Carrousel Tug" towing hook, which eliminates the risk of capsizing and makes the tug easier to manoeuvre and more efficient.

       These tug models are radio-controlled in accordance with the student's instructions, recreating the precise conditions of the actual port manoeuvre.


       All the models transmit all the manoeuvring data to the analysis laboratory in real time: position and speed (by differential GPS), developed powers, as well as rudder and propeller orientation.

       Nothing escapes the recorders, from the slightest hesitation to a serious error. The instructors are on hand to analyse and explain the best manoeuvring methods.

       Even more importantly, these analysis facilities can be used to study new situations contributed by the students themselves, their companies or their port authorities. The centre hence goes beyond the bounds of mere training and becomes a consultancy specialising in port accessibility and manoeuvre optimisation.


The Port Revel Centre proposes various types of shiphandling training course using scale models with on-board pilots:
  • Shiphandling courses for pilots & captains
  • Advanced shiphandling courses
  • Escort tugs
  • Emergency manoeuvres
  • Offshore manoeuvres
  • LNG/car/container carriers
  • ULCC
  • Pods
Contact :
Arthur de Graauw, Director
Tél : +33 474 200 240
Fax : +33 474 201 229
E-mail :

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