Training in Real-Time

Training in Real-Time

By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo
June 05, 2017

The radar showed a vessel passing through two small Caribbean islands. However, heavy thunderstorms and no visibility caused the vessel to veer toward the rocks and potentially crash. Belize Coast Guard Petty Officer Class Three Daniel Sabido instructed Dominican Republic Navy Ensign Smailin A. Villanueva Almonte to look at the map to get the exact location of the vessel. The scenario seemed real, but it was part of an exercise in a classroom with six big screens and advanced computers displaying the maritime simulator, a teaching tool that simulates ships and maritime environments used at the Caribbean Military Maritime Training Centre (CMMTC), located at the Jamaican Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard headquarters, HMJS Cagway, in Port Royal. Petty Officer Sabido and Ensign Villanueva were conducting a real-time maritime training scenario on the possible weather conditions they could face when navigating a vessel at sea. The CMMTC offers professional military and law enforcement maritime training to the Caribbean and Central American military forces. Petty Officer Sabido is a student at the nine-week Patrol Craft Commander course. “This course certifies me to train my unit back in Belize,” said Petty Officer Sabido. “Learning the rules of navigation, the dos and don’ts at sea is very important for us.” First Lt. Villanueva is taking the 21-week Bridge Watch Keeper course. “Being a better sailor or navigator is vital for me,” said 1st Lt. Villanueva. “This training helps us to improve our security in our nation.” The maritime simulator allows students to experience different navigator scenarios, that allow them to practice diverse weather and vessel conditions, according to Lieutenant Commander Alvin Gayle, commandant of the CMMTC, “It becomes effective as a tool to learn without damaging real property; they can learn without spending real fuel, there is also a cost-saving-benefit to it,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gayle, adding that the center has the capability “to teach pretty much every aspect of the coast guard life in Jamaica as well as in the Caribbean.” The center The CMMTC opened in June 2012 as one of the JDF’s centers of excellence under the auspices of a partnership agreement with the Canadian Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. The courses it offers are directed to all ranks of the armed forces and last between one and 21 weeks in duration. So far, 411 students from 13 countries, including JDF Police and Customs Department have attended the center’s programs. The training emphasizes professional seamanship, maritime engineering, search and rescue, ship team proficiency, and port inspection divers. As part of their curriculum, students can take courses including Bridge Watch Keeper, Executive Officer, Bridge Resources Management, Small Ship Command, Naval Boarding Party, Advance Coxswain, and Patrol Craft Command. “We do a lot of patrol in the Caribbean,” said Barbados Coast Guard Sub-Lieutenant Jamal Crick, a student at the Bridge Watch Keeper course. “It’s very beneficial, as we learned a lot about navigation.” With this training, Sub-Lieut. Crick will acquire new navigation skills to potentially become an officer of the watch, who is primarily responsible for the navigation of the ship. He will learn visual pilotage, application of rules of road, meteorology, and bridge resource management. The CMMTC’s instructors are primarily from the JDF, and most of them are trained in the United States. There are also instructors from Canada, Colombia, and Chile, but center officials are looking to expand their faculty to include more international educators. “We are the largest center in the region, and we have a good capacity for growth,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gayle. In addition to its curricular courses, the CMMTC has a mobile training team that delivers special training as requested by any particular country. For example, the Barbados Coast Guard requested the Bridge Watch Keeper course, and the Royal Cayman Island Police Service solicited training on boarding techniques. “Our goal is to create more courses as requested by the region and as the need from the coast guard arises,” added Lt. Cmdr. Gayle. “We do pride ourselves in delivering excellent services, and we intend to maintain that tradition for as long as we can with our regional partners.” For example, as part of the center’s 2017 goal, a nine-week diving course has been added to the curriculum. It will train students in counternarcotics skills and techniques to detect and identify contraband concealed in the exteriors of the ships. Lt. Cmdr. Gayle told Diálogo the CMMTC is working to obtain accreditation with the maritime authorities of Jamaica. Adapting to current trends JDF Coast Guard Able Seaman Diana Drummond-Thomas, one of the female students at the CMMTC, is ready to take the next step in her career. “Whenever I am called, I can be ready and operate any vessel.” She is enrolled in the nine-week Patrol Craft Command course. As a junior non-commissioned officer, the course will allow her to train in night-vision missions to support counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism assignments. The center is also focused on training coast guard members to face security threats in the region. “We are covering the training that needs to be covered to face the security threats: antinarcotics missions at sea, intercepting high-asset values, search and rescue, operating on board platforms, etc.,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gayle. In addition to learning about navigation, CMMTC students also have the opportunity to immerse themselves in different cultures. “I see they [students] bring their culture with them,” said 1st Lt. Villanueva. “I have learned about Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and all of the countries attending. With this course we can develop a better friendship between nations.” Petty Officer Sabido agrees. “We learn from other countries,” he said. “You never know when you will work with that country again, so it’s nice to frame that friendship with other nations.” “It’s better for us to have a combination of persons from various countries because at some point, we will end up working together,” finalized Sub-Lieut. Crick. “If we are partially trained the same way, we have an understanding of what is to be done.”
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