PMI Develops Z-Drive Tug Handling Program

The Pacific Maritime Institute, in partnership with Captain Jeff Slesinger, has developed and implemented a three-phase Z-drive Tug Handling Program.

The program is oriented towards Captains and Mates that are experienced Tug Operators, but have little or no experience driving Z-drive tugs. Utilizing the Pacific Maritime Institute’s state-of-the-art Tug Simulator, the Program guides operators through a series of “at sea” situations that are specifically designed to focus on and hone the specific skill sets required to operate a Z-drive tug.

At the end of the nine day course of instruction, operators come away with a fundamental understanding of, and an ability to perform, the unique boat handling skills required to maneuver Z-drive tugs in light tug, barge, and ship assist work.

The impetus for developing this program came from the Pilots and Tug Operators at the Puget Sound Naval Station (PSNS), located in Bremerton, WA. PSNS has embarked on an ambitious new-building project to replace their existing fleet of single-screw tugs with new 4500-HP Azimuthing Stern Drive (ASD) Tugs. Part of this new building project includes extensive training for both Naval Ship Pilots and Tug Operators. The PMI program is an integral part of the training process.

•Jay M. Anderson, Port Captain,Port Operations for the Bremerton/Everett Office
"The PMI ASD simulator is a fantastic tool for the beginner ASD driver. The graphics and the ASD simulator controls have an amazingly real-time feel. After driving single and twin screw tugs for the last twenty-four years and reading some of the trade magazine horror stories about transitioning from conventional tugs to ASD, I was a little nervous and concerned that I might be one of those thirty percent that “wash out” and can't make the transition.

The PMI simulator and Capt. Slesinger quelled those feelings by offering a very first-class, practical approach to learning how to operate an ASD Tug. With the safe and environmentally-sound world we live in these days, it was much nicer to be able to just restart the computer program after a mistake, than call the office and tell them you just crunched their 5 million dollar ASD Tug and half a city pier while trying to train the Mate.”

“The Tug Simulator is a great teaching tool,” says Captain Slesinger. “It gives us the opportunity to provide the operators with a concentrated dose of boat handling experience in a very short time. A key to Z-drive tug handling is to ‘know your limits.’ The Tug Simulator allows PMI to create realistic situations that push new operators to their limit. Throughout the program, the operators have the opportunity in here to make mistakes, and most importantly, to learn from them.

Each of PMI’s simulated situations is specifically designed to focus on a particular tug-handling skill set. The beauty of the simulator is that for each skill set, PMI can complete many cycles of learning in an extremely efficient and cost-effective manner”

•Quote from Gregg Trunnell, Director of the Pacific Maritime Institute
“Our tug simulator is an effective tool for companies to accomplish customized training for their employees. Being able to offer this type of training to our training companies was the motivation for building this second simulator at our facility. We have successfully offered specialized training to companies within various ports and waterways and will continue to work on specialized simulation exercises for our customers.”

Contact Information
Additional information can be found by contacting the Pacific Maritime Institute toll-free at (888) 893-7829. You may also e-mail Gregg Trunnell, PMI’s Director, at GTrunnell@mates.org or John Scragg, Training Director, at JScragg@mates.org.