Boarders Ahoy!

NATO has developed a boarding party simulator. An multiplayer online game ion game will be used to train sailors charged with boarding ships and searching for contraband.

“Boarders Ahoy!” uses technology similar to that behind commercial FPS (first person shooter) games. The simulator will allow trainees to demonstrate their understanding of proper procedures for searching a ship. “Boarders Ahoy!” will also give boarding party members a first taste, albeit virtual, of dangerous situations such as interference or violence from the crew, radioactive or dangerous chemical substances found and equipment faults. Being a simulator there is no risk of endangering anyone.

Once the individual trainees have demonstrated their understanding of all the required skills they pass into the second phase of their training. At a training centre in Crete, NATO has fitted out a retired cargo ship as a boarding party training vessel.

According to NATO, “Boarders Ahoy!” is an multiplayer online game that can be easily modified. As a means of detecting dangerous materials (radioactive and chemical) and terrorists on merchant ships, the NATO ship inspection was set up in the Mediterranean after September 11, 2001. Boarding party are required to have the permission of the ship’s captain and the nation whose flag is flies under. This, unfortunately, has prohibited boarding parties from examining a number of suspicious ships. The result of this is that over the past decade only 160 ships have been boarded and inspected.

Photograph courtesy of NATO media services

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Mark Lowe, Thursday 17 March 2011

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