The co-founder of BEI Maritime, retired US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Scott Chierepko, spoke with Halldale Group Industry Reporter Amanda Towner about future plans for a new maritime training center.

A state-of-the-art training center featuring a live-fire cargo ship, wind turbine tower, underwater egress and firefighting trainers is being built by BEI Maritime in Currituck County in northeastern North Carolina. The company anticipates a projected start date from mid- to late-summer 2019.

BEI Maritime will feature a 110-foot, three-story, live-fire cargo ship, complete with a 30-foot-high engine room. Image credit: BEI Maritime
BEI Maritime will feature a 110-foot, three-story, live-fire cargo ship, complete with a 30-foot-high engine room. Image credit: BEI Maritime

BEI’s focal point is a 1.4 million-gallon indoor pool and 110-foot, three-story, live-fire cargo ship, complete with a 30-foot-high engine room. The ship’s engine room offers a 720-degree shooting range ­– 360-degree horizontal and 360-degree vertical. The facility also includes 30 reconfigurable shipping containers and multiple “from water” climb heights for boarding.

The offshore survival training assets include a 16-passenger Helicopter Underwater Egress Trainer and a Small Craft Underwater Egress Trainer. In support of offshore wind training, a 12-foot diameter wind turbine tower will be projected 30 feet above the water level to maximize the Global Wind Organization’s regulated safety training requirements.

The facility can provide up to eight feet of continuous, variable set waves, maritime sound effects, winds up to 50 knots, fog, lighting to simulate any hour of the 24-hour spectrum, and rain. The facility will provide the atmospheric effects to simulate a “crawl, walk, run” approach for government, military or commercially regulated training requirements.

Outside will be a three-story “marinized” firefighting training center. This computer-controlled, propane-generated facility will simulate a maritime platform complete with an engine room, berthing and galley. The BEI campus will include an 80-room hotel and 80-seat dining facility to accommodate clients while they fulfill training requirements.

“The US Department of Defense and law enforcement will use the three-story ship for anti-piracy training, counter-terrorism training, and law enforcement training,” said Chierepko.

The offshore survival training business line will support commercial and military offshore mariners and off-shore aviators. The training offered fulfills the US Coast Guard’s STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) training pipeline, the Global Wind Organization (GWO) pipeline and the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization (OPITO).

The facility’s ability to produce a current of up to 6 mph will support academia, industry, and research and development efforts.

As the facility’s concept has been growing, potential clients have been able to request specific accommodations for their training needs. For example, an organization within the US Coast Guard is challenged with finding platforms high enough in pools, which can aid the organization in training how to enter water from different heights. “Many organizations have training requirements that are not being met, and we are a blank canvas looking to help,” said Chierepko.

“Every potential customer or organization that I spoke with had a unique need or use, so the theme became, ‘if you build it they will come.’ Followed by ‘if you add this they will definitely come,’” said Chierepko. “Even by adding just a small feature it can save a customer millions of dollars of at-sea training and exponentially increase training capability and safety. For example, putting this 30-foot-high, simulated offshore wind turbine will increase safety dramatically, as well as increase training capability.”