- A training facility in a French lake is helping mariners navigate the world’s trickiest waterways.
- The lake contains a mini version of the Suez Canal, which is replicated on a 1/25th scale.
- Owners of the facility say they’ve seen a spike in interest after the Ever Given crisis last month.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A training facility in a lake in eastern France, which replicates some of the busiest trading routes in the world, has seen a surge in interest after the colossal container ship, the Ever Given, became wedged in the Suez Canal last month.
The Port Revel facility, located in a lake on the foothills of the Alps in Saint-Pierre-de-Bressieux, is designed to help mariners and ship captains navigate crucial shipping channels.
The replicas of the different waterways, including the Suez Canal, the San Francisco Bay, and Port McArthur in the Gulf of Mexico, are made to be as realistic as possible, built to one twenty-fifth the scale of the real ones.
Trainees at the facility have to learn how to maneuver scale models of massive container ships without getting stuck in narrow channels, facing strong underwater currents, and machine-generated waves while doing so.
Instructors can also simulate steering problems and engine outages to see how the trainees react.
Francois Mayor, the managing director of Port Revel, told Reuters that the training facility has seen a spike in interest following the chaos caused by the Ever Given container ship, which ran aground amid a sandstorm in March and blocked the Suez Canal for six dramatic days.
He said it may prompt shipping companies to send their staff for refresher courses.
“After each accident … we see new clients coming,” said Mayor, according to Reuters. “The cost of training at Port Revel is nothing like the cost of having a vessel like that stuck for a day.”
Mayor also said that while the facility has multiple machines to simulate different environments for the maritime pilots, it is “a bit hard to recreate sandstorm.”
“But we have gusts of wind which will push our ship to one side or another,” he added. “You have little space to maneuver. You have to be particularly focussed.”
While the Ever Given might have been freed from the banks of the Suez Canal – with the help of tugboats and excavators – the 396.24m ship remains trapped in Egypt.
Last week, the Suez Canal Authority said they won’t release the ship until its owners agreed to pay up to $1 billion in compensation.
The ship and the 25-person Indian crew of sailors currently remain at anchor in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake.
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