This is how not to get stuck on the Suez Canal

This is how not to get stuck on the Suez Canal

Francois Mayor is making subtle adjustments on the wheel

to coax his cargo vessel through a narrow point in the Canal.

"With a waterway you have little space to manoeuvre, so you have to be especially focused and attentive to whatever might happen."

This, of course, isn’t the Suez in Egypt.

It’s a mini replica – specifically one twenty-fifth the scale - in the middle of a French forest.

It's been built to train ship captains and maritime pilots how to navigate the real thing -- a skill now in the spotlight after the Ever Given cargo ship got wedged in March in high winds and a sandstorm.

Francois Mayor is the managing director here.

His trainees have to steer through scale models of massive container ships without getting stuck.

"The specific depth, the banks, the shape of the canal, are exactly those of the actual, historical, canal, before the 2015 expansion. That is in order to put trainees in very realistic conditions."

During training instructors simulate steering problems and engine outages to see how the trainees react.

"The difficulties are the same like in the actual Suez Canal, except that the small difference might be that sandstorms are hard to simulate here. Otherwise, we have very powerful wind gushes that will take you and your ship to a side or another. We have temperatures that will have an impact on your system."

The Port Revel facility is designed to replicate some of the trickiest spots in global shipping.

There is also a mini-San Francisco Bay, and an imitation Port Arthur, Texas,

for lessons on docking and maneuvering cruise ships and tankers in crowded ports.

Under-water turbines replicate currents and waves.

Mayor said the incident with the Ever Given,

which blocked the Suez canal for six days and choked global trade, will likely prompt shipping companies to send their staff for refresher courses.

Video Transcript

- This is how to not get stuck on the Suez Canal, like this. Francois Mayor is making subtle adjustments on the wheel to coax his cargo vessel through a narrow point on the Canal.

FRANCOIS MAYER: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: With water waterway you have little space to maneuver, so you have to be especially focused and attentive to whatever might happen.

- This of course isn't the real Suez in Egypt. It's a mini replica, specifically 1/25 the scale, in the middle of a French forest. It's been built to train ship captains and Maritime pilots how to navigate the real thing, a skill now in the spotlight after the Ever Given cargo ship got wedged in March in high winds and a sandstorm. Trainees have to steer through scale models of massive container ships without getting stuck.

FRANCOIS MAYER: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: The specific depth, the banks, the shape of the Canal, are exactly those of the actual historical Canal before the 2015 expansion. That is in order to put trainee's in very realistic conditions.

- During training instructors simulate steering problems and engine outages to see how the trainees react.

- [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: The difficulties are the same like in the actual Suez Canal, except that the small difference might be that sandstorms are hard to simulate here. Otherwise, we have very powerful wind gushes that will take you and your ship to a side or another. We have temperatures that will have an impact on your system.

- The Port Revel facility is designed to replicate some of the trickiest spots in global shipping. There's also a mini San Francisco Bay and an imitation Port Arthur, Texas for lessons on docking and maneuvering cruise ships and tankers in crowded ports. Underwater turbines replicate currents and waves. Mayor said the incident with the Ever Given, which blocked the Suez Canal for six days and choked global trade, will likely prompt shipping companies to send their staff for refresher courses.