Submarine safety and spatial awareness: The SubSafe games-based training system

R. J. Stone*, A. Caird-Daley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A feasibility study commissioned in 1998 by Flag Officer Submarines (FOSM) evaluated the human factors issues of adopting new forms of interactive media to enhance the spatial awareness of safety-critical systems on board Trafalgar Class vessels. The study delivered an early virtual demonstrator that combined simple, real-time 3D models of the main submarine decks and compartments with 360° digital image panoramas of complex, cluttered areas. Digital panoramas were chosen to overcome the huge financial and computational costs of reproducing every pipe, cable, valve and subsystem evident onboard vessels of this class in 3D. More recently, however, hardware and software technologies developed for computer games have proved to be more than capable of delivering quite detailed virtual environments on PC platforms and gaming consoles for non-entertainment applications, at a fraction of the cost than was the case 8 years ago. SubSafe is one such example of what can be achieved using gaming technologies, exploiting freely available, freely distributable software. SubSafe is a proof-of-concept demonstrator that presents end users with an interactive three-dimensional model of part of a typical Naval Base quayside and a Trafalgar Class submarine. The virtual submarine model comprises 3 decks forward of bulkhead 59 (aft of the control room), which accounts for some 35 compartments and over 500 different objects (such as valves, pipes, firefighting and life-saving units, important control panels and so on). This paper presents the background to the SubSafe project and current plans for pilot studies conducted in conjunction with the Royal Navy's Submarine School in Devonport. The studies are investigating knowledge transfer from the classroom to the real submarine (during Week 7 of the students' "Submarine Qualification Dry", or SMQ(D) course), together with general usability and interactivity assessments. The paper also briefly considers future extensions into other submarine training domains, including periscope ranging and look-interval assessment skills and the planning and rehearsal of approach and docking procedures for submersible rescue operations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Ergonomics 2009
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
EventAnnual Conference of the Ergonomics Society on Contemporary Ergonomics 2009 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Apr 20091 Apr 2009


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the Ergonomics Society on Contemporary Ergonomics 2009
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics


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