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Hi-tech tug training to support Royal Navy carriers’ safe movement in and out of Portsmouth Naval Base

Hi-tech tug training to support Royal Navy carriers’ safe movement in and out of Portsmouth Naval Base
Enhanced training, using the latest in simulator technology will ensure Britain’s biggest warships continue to enter and leave their home base safely.

BMT has been awarded a contract to deliver training to Admiralty Pilots and tug masters responsible for assisting HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales in and out of Portsmouth Naval Base.

The firm has been selected by the MOD to deliver the highest levels of safety, operational efficiency, readiness, and an advanced five-bridge training simulator offering customised navigation training.

Given the size and displacement of the two carriers, the harbour and facilities have been adapted to accommodate them, from dredging a channel for the ships to pass safely down, to the installation of navigational lights and markers.

A super-strength tug, SD Tempest, was also acquired to help other auxiliary craft manoeuvre the 65,000-tonne leviathans safely in and out of the naval base.
Tug masters and Admiralty Pilots underwent extensive training ahead of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s debut in Portsmouth in August 2017, training which has continued, alongside real-world moves involving the flagship and, since November 2019, her sister.

Under the new multi-year agreement, the company’s five, fully networked ship and tug bridge simulator suite will be used to the full by pilotage and tugs teams to practise challenging manoeuvring and berthing strategies, complex tow-outs and manoeuvring. 

“This project offers an important training capability, which will be vital to developing and sustaining the skills of Admiralty Pilots and Serco tug masters in handling the nation’s flagships, the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. The King’s Harbour Master’s team and the Admiralty Pilots look forward to working with BMT on delivering this essential training over the next few years,” said Nick Randall at King’s Harbour Master Portsmouth. 

Dr Phil Thompson, Maritime Products Director at BMT, added: “In addition to this award, the Admiralty Pilots will be put through their paces this month during a stint of ‘high-octane training in Port’, and through the most challenging of waters at high speed, at our newly-launched and expanded south-east training facility in Fareham.” 

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