The country’s maritime industry got a boost today with [Svitzer](http:// www.svitzer.com ) opening its Regional Training Centre in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Since 1833, Svitzer has provided safety and support at sea. With a reported 4,000 plus employees, a fleet of more than 400 vessels and operating all over the world, the company is said to be a global market leader in towage and emergency response. The firm is head-quartered in Copenhagen, Denmark and it is part of the A.P.Moller-Maersk Group.
The Training Centre, located at Logwood Road, features one of the most complete navigation simulator in the region, with stations for assisted ship and two harbour tugs. The simulator has been developed by FORCE Technology of Denmark, and deployed by Svitzer in close cooperation with the Freeport Harbour Company and Mediterranean Shipping Company.
Svitzer says the Training Centre and its simulator represent another step in Svitzer’s commitment to enhancing safety and drive operational excellence in harbours and terminals in the region. Grand Bahama Minister Dr. Michael Darville noted that the investment means that Grand Bahama will now be home to the latest navigation simulator stations used to train marine pilots and tugboat captains from around the world by exposing them to real-life situations, in a safe maritime environment. *“I am pleased that Svitzer has made the decision to establish this training facility on Grand Bahama, which will be advantageous for our growing maritime sector and local residents,”* he stated.
The Minister for Grand Bahama also stressed that with the proposed expansion of the College of The Bahamas maritime programmes, he is certain that COB will develop a close working relationship with the internationally accredited regional training centre, thus creating additional training opportunities for students enrolled in the maritime programme at the College of The Bahamas’ Northern Campus. *“I am a firm believer that if we equip our young people with the necessary skills and certifications to meet the present and future demands in the various sectors of our economy, we will see a continual decrease in our unemployment statistics,”* he added.
The Minister for Grand Bahama continued, “*I am excited about the role Grand Bahama is playing in the growth of the country’s maritime sector and once again, demonstrating that our strategic location, our state of the art infrastructure and our world class harbour has positioned us to become the leader in the region not only for growth and development but training as well.”* Over the years Grand Bahama Island has established a first class reputation as a major maritime and transshipment centre, and is considered home to a group of highly skilled Bahamian captains who have great boat handling abilities. In fact, the maritime industry encompasses a wide range of sectors which combined, contribute an estimated 14 to 18 per cent of the gross domestic product of The Bahamas, and employs a large number of young Bahamian professionals. *“The launch of this Regional Training Centre will add another important dimension to our maritime industry,”* the Minister added.
State Minister for Transportation Hope Strachan noted that Grand Bahama has the makings of a maritime hub unequalled in the region. *“It is therefore a natural fit that Svitzer would choose Freeport to anchor its training institute. This will serve not only burgeoning young Bahamians but the entire region,”* she stated. The Ministry of Transport and Aviation is committed to fostering a culture of safety, and recognises that training is one of the most critical components to achieve that goal. *“Training is also a critical element in the growth and development of the maritime sector here in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. We are fully committed and have incorporated training into all operations within the transport sector. Technological advances like the simulator offered creates the next best opportunity for training second only to being on board or in the midst of the real life crisis or situation,”* the State Minister said.