The first Navigational Aids Simulator was in the first phase of Mizen Vision!, opened in 2001. The Bridge was built by Geoff McCarthy and Dave Otway, Schull to house it. We had researched simulators in Liverpool, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich and Portsmouth. We chose a Transas Simulator and Paul Dollery came from Portsmouth to set it up. It had three screens and three monitors - the helm, radar and ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System). It was a fully operational training simulator for marine proficiency.
Feb 2000 – Jun 2001
Gary Delaney, GPS Ireland, Cork negotiated, specified, project managed, managed a team of 4 (David, Gillian, Gay and Denis), installed, tested and commissioned a Transas full mission bridge simulator with the staff from Transas in Portsmouth. He also trained Visitor Centre staff in its use and basic snag resolution. This was the 1st full mission bridge simulator installed in Ireland, though installed as a visitor/tourist attraction but with all the capabilities and instructor/learning functions of an educational system. Full real-time passages were planned, navigated and recorded for playback for visitors.
The National Maritime College in Cork was just getting its first simulator. However, at that stage CGI was very rudimentary and expensive so our first assignments was to dock a ship in the port at Calais and enter the port of Glasgow. The ambition was to have our own Mizen to Fastnet journey.
As well as the simulator we had all the u to date paraphernalia that was used on a ship's bridge at that time. There is a file below called the Bridge which specifies all the equipment needed.
In 2008 the second phase of the project was opened. The Nav Aids Simulator now had a room of its own. The old Bridge became part of Mizen Shop.
The computer equipment was seven years old and so we upgraded the simulator. This time we still had three screens and three monitors but we were able to commission a journey out to the Fastnet, round Crookhaven Harbour and round the Mizen. For the first time we were able to show people what the Mizen cliffs looked like to mariners coming from America before the Fog Signal was established in 1909. The only problem was that the simulator was travelling in real time. We chose a fast boat but it still took forever to get out to the Fastnet and back. It was hit and miss whether you would see land or just endless sea.
In 2019 the computer equipment was 11 years old. After continuous use for all those years an upgrade was necessary. In the meantime CGI had leapt forward. Michael Collins took a camera and shot new footage round the whole journey. It was decided to move to five screens and to make the journey interesting all the time. The weather conditions, other traffic and sea conditions can all be changed. Finally it has arrived where we wanted to be all those years ago! If you stand at the helm it is very realistic - hold on! Thanks to Transas and Alex Ponamarev. Transas was bought by Wartsila in 2018. www.wartsila.com