Story from the Telegram online edition. 

The lifeboat simulator systems of Virtual Marine Technology (VMT) in St. John’s continue to be certified for use by the offshore oil industry.

Recertification assures the technology meets the latest marine industry standards.

“The SurvivalQuest lifeboat simulator provides a valuable addition to traditional training,” Ruud de Bruin of DNV-GL said in a statement.

It operates as an enclosed unit, testing workers on specific emergency procedures. The simulator is considered particularly useful in environments where worker training carries its own risks, to the point where the most challenging scenarios cannot be replicated in the real world as needed.

“Abandonment procedures and communication as well as clearing the legs or risers of an offshore installation, facing an expected sea state, wind and current upon water entry, can normally not be practiced,” de Bruin stated.

VMT is a local company, born from joint government-corporate investment in research and development. It has grown as a result of the offshore oil industry’s buy-in on the resulting product.

The first deployment of a VMT system was in 2009 at the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

“We now have 14 systems internationally,” VMT vice-president of sales and marketing Alfred Whiffen said in an interview Tuesday.

VMT systems exist in Norway, the U.K., Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. Locally, the company’s systems are being used by both the Hibernia Management and Development Co. Ltd. and Husky Energy.

“This recertification is a critical part of our continued growth in the oil and gas industry and elsewhere for that matter,” Whiffen said, noting that despite the oil price downturn, the company is eyeing growth, seeing potential for its systems in coast guard training in particular.

VMT employs just under 20 people.

Whiffen says the company has been without competition in the world of lifeboat-specific simulators, but has recently heard of two simulation companies — one in Russia and one in the Netherlands — telling customers they could supply a similar lifeboat simulator system upon request.

“We’ll have competition in the very near future,” Whiffen said.