(Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy)

A U.S. Navy contractor is preparing a request for proposals to build a $50-million to $80-million warship simulator capable of subjecting crews of nearly 400 graduating boot-camp recruits to virtual trials by sea duty, fire, flood and mass casualty emergencies.

The designers of Battle Stations 21 have been charged with creating a large sound stage with a ship mock-up inside, complete with water and a pier. Recruits will experience moving aboard, handling lines, standing watch, fighting fires and controlling damage. The intent is to create a virtual experience that will deliver the look, feel and rising stress levels that a crew would face during a 12-hour cruise that turns into an emergency aboard a guided missile destroyer.

Conceptual designs and the RFP are being prepared under a $1.4 million contract by Integrity Arts and Technology Inc. (i.d.e.a.s.), Orlando, Fla., an entertainment and marketing industry contractor. Click here to view images

The "ship" will replace a five-year-old makeshift facility with what promises to provide an exponential increase in realism. It is to be built at Naval Training Center Great Lakes, in Great Lakes, Ill., the Navy's largest training facility.

"The present facility is low fidelity. We've always felt we could make it a lot better by increasing the stress quotient, creating a situation that really feels like it is unfolding," says Mitch Gorshin, chief creative officer/creative director and lead on the project. "We're not trying to redefine the basic experience. We're just going to amp it up, make it more real."

"We don't know what we are going to build yet, but the ship itself will be 160,000 sq ft and four decks high," Gorshin says. The simulator will be steel, about 500 ft long, and float in water. "We are going to create just what it is like to be on a ship, with all the shin busters, those typical hazards. If something needs to be really hot like it is on a ship, it's going to be really hot." Gorshin says.

The RFP is scheduled to be out in August, with proposals due in October. Occupation is planned for January 2007.