...combination of Alucobond composite panels and a lighter-weight foam panel. Scenic elements, such as hatches, watertight doors, lifeboats, bits and chocks are either replicated or salvaged from decommissioned ships.

Few projects have integrated this degree of high-tech pyrotechnics and special effects. “We have multiple roles,” says Hilde A. Varah, GlobalSim program manager. “We do the computerized training management system, which scores and tracks recruits. Then we handle the closed-circuit safety TV system to monitor potential problem areas. Then we manage the recruit phone communication network. Later, we took on the system integration effort to provide a communication platform, data base and documentation for the Navy.”

All special effects are controlled by a master system that is run by the GlobalSim system. “We’re using commercial equipment for all the hardware,” says Varah. “But we developed the software.”

Durabilty. Materials used in the ship will have to stand up to repeated disasters. (Photo courtesy of McShane-Fleming Sudios)

Varah has done other integration projects but nothing this extensive. “Over 12 years, we have done a number of training projects for the Navy and Coast Guard and delivered at least 88 crane trainer systems and 30 to 40 driver training systems. But Battle Stations is a bigger version with special effects,” she says. The firm received about $4.2 million for both contracts.


Creating realistic special effects was a challenge. Sheridan notes that flooded compartments are coated with a nine-part heavy-duty epoxy, which required special ventilation and temperature control to install. Fire posed other issues. “We have a fire room where flames reach 1,200°F and we had to design it so it did not turn into an oven,” says McVay. “It’s like designing a new thermal envelope— contain the heat but not leak it to the rest of the trainer. To do that, we did thermal modeling and pushed the data into a shipboard design that included a flame bar located under a grilled floor reminiscent of a bilge.” Thermal coating materials, Shock-Crete and Ameron, were applied to concrete block walls to provide a thermal and waterproof barrier.

Another challenge was fabricating battle-damaged rooms. “We have four environments called mass casualties, which replicate a torpedo hitting berthing rooms and a galley,” says John Stapleton, Scenic View executive producer. “Basically each one is a series of mazes in a 7,800-sq-ft room where the floor is pushed up and the ceiling is hanging down. Everything is fabricated to get the realism right, but it complies with standard fire codes and is safely constructed so that there is nothing sharp or protruding. The recruits’ challenge is to find injured shipmates in smoke, fog and strobe effects of a very confusing environment.”

Scenic View also provided two pier scenarios—one for entering the Trayer and one for exiting. “They start out at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia and end up at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown in Virginia,” says Stapleton. “We did that by using a series of hinged, sliding and escalating scene changes on the steel-framed 192-ft-long pier.”

While the building will not be LEED certified for technical and financial reasons, it still meets many “green” building guidelines because it recycles the ocean water and project waste and uses low VOC materials. The building also complies with anti-terrorism force protection requirements with setbacks, bollards, blast-resistant glass and other items.


But the Trayer is power hungry. “We’re coming in with a 12,000-Volt feed for the whole building but we split it 25% for the admin center and 75% for the trainer,” says John E. Fialkowski, McHugh MEP coordinator. “We use a lot of energy replacing air because we have to purge various scenarios, which requires additional heating or cooling.”

“Truthfully, its been one heck of a ride,” says Livas. “The design, systems and building components are noteworthy and I don’t believe any other delivery system could have produced it in a timely manner,” he says, adding that the project is on time and budget.

The Trayer is setting the stage for a new wave of trainers. “Other navies are interested in what we are doing, “ says Moran. “Even the Air Force is interested in the concept.”