The country's maiden state-of-the-art simulator complex is set to open in June this year, offering 25-30 types of training for marine cadets.
The Bangladesh National Maritime Institute (NMI) in Chattogram is setting up the complex, which will provide training on operation of remotely operated, offshore and LPG-LNG-based vessels.
According to the Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers Association, there are currently about 10,470 marine officers in Bangladesh and every year, the country earns $504 in the form of their salaries.
"This simulator will be very useful for present and future marine officers. Trained and qualified marine officers will add a lot of foreign currencies to the exchequer," said Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers Association President Captain Anam Chowdhury.
Every year, around 800 new marine cadets pass from nine marine cadet training institutes in the country but they do not get jobs due to lack of adequate ships to accommodate them and required training in the country.
Simulation-based training is mandatory in cadet training as per the rules of the International Maritime Organisation. At present, Bangladesh Marine Academy and private academies have simulators but those do not have all training facilities.
The trainees will be able to enjoy the operation of a ship in the high seas and dealing with storms while sitting in the training centre.
In addition to bridges, engines, GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System), there would be tankers, chemical tankers and gas tanker simulators. Moreover, the simulator will be connected with buoy handling tug, crane operation, high voltage, sulphur cap, ballast water management simulator.
Inland river ports will also be connected to this simulator to provide safety training to sailors of inland and coastal ships.
NMI Principal Captain Faisal Azim said the centre was being built at Tk40 crore and training is supposed to start in June. It will brighten the image of Bangladesh in the international maritime sector by creating skilled marine officers.
NMI sources said several simulators have already arrived in the country and the rest will arrive on time.
According to NMI sources, students of all institutions involved in maritime training will get training opportunities from this specialised institute. Apart from the 2-year training for cadets, there will be short-term training.
Bangladesh spends about $9 billion a year on ship charter on international sea routes, of which only 10-15% is Bangladeshi ones.
Due to some recent steps taken by the Bangladesh government, the number of Bangladeshi ships is increasing by sea. The employment of Bangladesh sailors on domestic flagged ships is increasing. At the same time, there is a demand for Bangladeshi sailors in foreign ships. As a result, the job market for Bangladeshi sailors in the international market will be further expanded, experts said.
However, Captain Anam Chowdhury stressed ensuring quality in training instead of producing a mass of marine cadets with substandard cadets.