The Nautical Institute at the Strait Area campus of the Nova Scotia Community College is enjoying upgrades to its training equipment and software, courtesy of ACOA.

The federal agency has given the school in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., nearly $850,000.

That money will pay for an upgraded navigation simulator, a new marine voltage simulator and new software for sailing in Arctic waters.

The academic chair of the Nautical Institute, Capt. Vivek Saxena, says the school has been training seafarers in Nova Scotia for more than 120 years.

"To continue the trend, we need to keep up with the new technology which is out there in the industry," he said. "So the graduates of our school, basically, they can experience the stuff which is right now really required in the industry."

Unique at schools in Canada

Saxena says the upgrades include all-digital control on the marine simulator, corresponding to the current industry standard. He says there's also high demand for training on the school's new marine voltage simulator.

"Right now in Canada, none of the marine schools are providing this training, so we are fortunate that we will have this high-voltage simulator," he said.

"We'll be able to train the marine engineers and electro-technical officers in high voltage as well, so it's definitely something we wanted and we got it."

Arctic navigation training

The institute also now offers Arctic marine navigation training. New regulations next July will make such training mandatory for navigators and others sailing in the Arctic.

The principal of the Strait Area campus of NSCC, Tom Gunn, says the upgrades will enable the institute to better partner with commercial marine interests.

"We're training staff from Marine Atlantic and Atlantic Towing and Algoma — the big marine companies that we're all familiar with," Gunn said. 

"Because of that and the work that we do, last year we had over 1,200 students come from marine companies to get upgraded and to be recertified."

with files from Information Morning Cape Breton