Leveraging Technology for Training Safety
By: Domnic Dass & Rajendran Nataraja (Photos: Singapore Police Force)
The Special Task Squadron (STS) of the Police Coast Guard (PCG) is a unit of highly-trained PCG officers tasked with handling high-risk maritime security operations, which often involve high-speed boat chases. STS officers face the risk of a boat capsize during such operations, and it is imperative that these officers are equipped with the skills to deal with such scenarios. Read on to find out how the PCG leverages technology with the use of the Underwater Egress Training Simulator (UETS) to sharpen the STS officers’ capabilities!
A Matter of Life and Death.
Policing Singapore’s territorial waters is a constant challenge. PCG officers out at sea are not only subject to the mercy of nature but also to the heavy maritime traffic, as Singapore is known to be one of the world’s busiest ports. Due to such challenging conditions, any mishaps out at sea can be life-threatening. As part of their operations, STS officers operate PK Interceptor boats and PJ-class high-speed assault crafts, which are capable of travelling at speeds above 100km/hr. If a mishap such as a boat capsize occurs, the officers must be able to react quickly and skilfully by manoeuvring through obstacles and removing their gears properly in order to escape from under the capsized boat. In a capsize situation, officers may also have to deal with complete darkness or murky waters while being trapped under a boat amid potentially strong currents and choppy waters.
The Underwater Egress Training Simulator
To equip PCG officers with the skills to safeguard themselves during a boat capsize situation, PCG is leveraging technology with the use of the UETS, which is a simulator designed for training officers in crucial egressing techniques. Introduced in August 2021, the UETS is a new training facility with an automated rig modelled on an operational high-speed interceptor (2nd Generation PK) boat. The UETS functions together with a wave generator, which creates waves in the training pool to simulate backwash and other tidal conditions. With these functions, the UETS allows officers to train in a realistic environment to help them prepare mentally and physically to handle a boat capsizing scenario. The UETS can also replicate various physical and environmental conditions that may arise during maritime emergencies, which helps to train the officers to carry out their duties in adverse conditions out at sea.
The UETS automatic rig lifting the boat structure after undergoing a capsize simulation.
Sharpening the STS’s capabilities
Station Inspector (SI) Adrian (pictured above) standing beside a 2nd Generation PK Class High Speed Interceptor Boat.
SI Adrian (not his real name) is an Underwater Confidence Trainer for the UETS. In a boat capsize situation, SI Adrian pointed out that officers may experience disorientation within a confined space whilst underwater. He further highlighted that officers who are fully geared up with their operational equipment might also face problems trying to move out from the submerged boat. “Factors such as visibility, composure and confidence can also impact your egressing strategy when out at sea,” explained SI Adrian.
With the UETS training, officers will be able to experience realistic training through the different simulated capsizing scenarios. Such simulated training also helps to develop the mindset and enhance the officers’ confidence to face similar situations in real-life. “I strongly believe that the officers’ confidence is the most crucial element that helps them to be mentally prepared for such situations. This is also a crucial capability that the UETS helps to build through the repeated drills we conduct,” shared SI Adrian. SI Adrian also highlighted that the simulator is modelled on an actual PCG craft, which enables the officers to train with familiar operating equipment, further helping to enhance their confidence. “Confident officers out at sea are officers who are operationally ready to execute their mission effectively,” emphasised SI Adrian.
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
29 March 2022 @ 4:00 PM