THE Royal Navy has unveiled a new state-of-the-art warfare training centre at HMS Collingwood.
The £108m computer suite, which will prepare the next generation of sailors for war, was officially opened by former First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jock Slater at the Fareham base yesterday.
The Maritime Composite Training System (MCTS) has been labelled the most radical change to naval warfare training since computer technology was first introduced 40 years ago.
Banks of touch-screen computers recreate the equipment used in warships to enable sailors to practise attacking and defending at sea like never before.
The flat-screen units can be moved around and reconfigured to replicate operations rooms in any type of the navy’s ships, and scenarios can be played in virtual maps across the globe.
Adm Slater, who was head of the navy from 1995 to 1998, was shown around the facility.
He said: ‘This is the most exciting move in the right direction.
‘Forty-five years ago we thought we’d entered the new era with the introduction of computers but we’ve made a step-change now with MCTS. It beats the old technology hands-down in preparing officers and ratings for the future. It’s a wonderful system.’
The MCTS will be used by 1,000 trainees a year and existing ships’ companies to hone their skills without going to sea.
BAE Systems, which has signed a deal to maintain MCTS until 2018, spent seven years developing the new system.
It was installed at Collingwood last month and has already been used for training by crews of HMS York, Illustrious, Sutherland, Montrose, Daring, Diamond and Dragon.
Commodore Tim Lowe, from the Maritime Warfare School at HMS Collingwood, said: ‘This is a move forward for Collingwood.
‘MCTS is the next step in a revolution for maritime warfare training. It’s going to change the way we do what we do at the base. As a warfare rating or officer, you will come back and use this throughout your career.
‘From Collingwood’s perspective, we are absolutely delighted we have this facility.’