Middies simulate navigation, war maneuvers

Midshipmen at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., are getting real-world, real-war experience without ever leaving the idyllic campus on the Chesapeake Bay. They are learning their trade on a naval simulator where they learn how to negotiate complex tasks.

Midshipmen at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., are getting real-world, real-war experience without ever leaving the idyllic campus on the Chesapeake Bay. They are learning their trade on a naval simulator where they learn how to negotiate complex tasks, reports The Capital Online.

"You can make as many mistakes here as you want, and nobody is going to get hurt, no ships are going to get damaged. And when you do make a mistake, you can back up and hit reset," said Lt. George Segredo, the incoming deputy director of professional development.

Used by the academy for about six years, the simulator is a marvel in virtual reality technology. With bobbing waves, tilting decks and lighting that adjusts according to the time of day, the only thing that's that's not an illusion is sea-sickness.

The optical illusions are created by seven projectors flashing overlapping images on a 190-degree screen. The floor is stationary and made of concrete.

The simulations are as challenging and instructors can increase the difficulty by programming more complex situations. The setting can be on the open seas or in one of 15 different navel ports. For example, two simulators can be employed in two different rooms with two group of mids. One ship is leaving port and the other coming in is a very complex maneuver.

"The hardest part is when the instructors start making the situation more complicated by putting ships in randomly," said Midshipman 1st Class Benjamin A. Mattes of Virginia Beach, Va. "We get to try different situations, and (afterward) I feel a lot more confident."

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