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These Mini-Ships Teach Pilots How to Navigate Major Waterways | National Geographic

They look like toy boats, but they serve a serious purpose. An outsider at this facility near Grenoble, France, may see grown men riding arounda lake in miniature ships. But these are pilots of the worlds largest ships, and theyre practicing navigation with meticulously engineered 1:25 scale models of real cruisers, tankers, and containerships. Port Revel Shiphandling Training Centre, in operation since 1967, has had more than 6,000 maritime pilots and merchant ship officers from all over the world train on its 13-acre man-made lake. Wind-, wave-, and current-generating machines simulate real-world conditions, to help the pilots learn how to maneuver in shallow waters and deal with emergencies—in safe conditions. The school recently added its own built-to-scale course of the giant new locks that will open next year to allow the passage of large ships through the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal Pilots Association has made its own training lake but is sending senior pilots and simulator instructors to Port Revel to learn how to teach using manned models. Port Revel has built two large model ships and is sending them along with four radio-controlled tugboats to the Panama Canal training facility.

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