Captain Chris Hearn - Director, Centre for Marine Simulation Marine Institute of Memorial University

Chris Hearn

Director, Centre for Marine Simulation Marine Institute of Memorial University

A member of the Nautical Institute, Captain Christopher Hearn began his nautical career in 1994 after graduating from the Marine Institute’s Nautical Science Program. He quickly moved his way through the marine ranks advancing to Master Mariner and obtaining a command in less than ten years. With a total of 15 years at sea, his career has afforded him experiences working with companies of various operations including Offshore Drilling, Seismic Survey, Ice Breaking, General Cargo, Crude Oil, and Clean Products Tankers, Tugs, Cable ships, and RO-RO Container positions.

Coming ashore as a Marine Superintendent and Designated Person Ashore with Canadian and foreign companies, Captain Hearn was engaged in subsea cable laying and repair, seismic work, general cargo operations, resolving issues dealing with Flag and Class, consulting with P & I and hull and machinery insurers, and establishing ISM and ISPS apparatus on vessels.

Captain Hearn returned to the Marine Institute in 2009 as the Director of the Centre for Marine Simulation. The Centre is the largest and most comprehensive marine simulation facility in Canada and covers an entire range of training, educational, and research and development capabilities through the use of simulation technology. Today, as Director, Captain Hearn works with maritime and offshore industries to mitigate the risk of accidents, to accelerate training and improve performance, and to test new equipment design and procedures. CMS’s particular areas of expertise include the modelling and simulation of harsh maritime environments, human performance in moving environments, simulation of offshore oil and gas operations, and operational risk analysis.

Captain Hearn also serves as the Divisional Master of the Newfoundland and Labrador Division of the Company of Master Mariners of Canada, The Deputy National Master of the Company of Master Mariners, and is a Member of the Nautical Institute. Speaking to his international experience, he also sits as a board member of Irish Maritime and Energy Cluster.


Vision is a big part of every leader’s success. Captain Hearn describes vision as two components; tactical vision and strategic vision. He says, “The ability to process information quickly to identify opportunity or act positively when faced with particular challenges or circumstances that will have benefit would be tactical vision. The foresight to set specific objectives or develop capacity that will allow you to take advantage of opportunities when they arise would be strategic vision. Both of these aspects are entwined and important to have.”


Captain Hearn shares his views on leadership: “I’ve come to some realizations on leadership and the practice of it through my seagoing and marine career. I think firstly you should be clear and direct when dealing with people. Not everyone will be happy with your message or directive at times, but they should know that you are available to them to seek clarification. The ability to listen is very important, especially when someone is offering a different viewpoint for consideration. You should realize that you can’t do it all on your own, and empowering people through delegating responsibility is a great way to develop a team approach to resolving an issue. Success is to be shared with the group – when things don’t go well, the group needs to assess what went wrong and to learn from mistakes – and as a leader you should ensure this. Be a good judge of character, but not too quick to judge people and what they could accomplish. I also think a healthy sense of humour helps greatly. Being able to laugh at situations can help defuse a lot of tension and provides reassurance to people at times.”


On June 15th, The Centre for Marine Simulation (CMS) will gather with local, national, and international offshore and marine industry representatives to mark the grand opening of the Hibernia Offshore Operations Simulator. The new technology complements the range-of-motion capable ship and operational simulators at CMS, and it adds a new element in terms of its ability to represent the specialist vessels servicing the oil exploration and production operations. Representing the latest in simulation capacity with an advanced numerical and physics engine capable of representing the varying forces involved in close platform supply, deep water anchor handling, and rig or ice berg towing, the technology will be used in the supply of training and operational assessment projects. The Hibernia Offshore Operations Simulator represents some three years of planning, development, and construction and is funded through public and industry sources led by the Hibernia Management Company.

As an industrial response unit of the Marine Institute, the Centre for Marine Simulation represents the largest and most comprehensive suite of marine simulation capacity in Canada. Consisting of 23 simulators ranging from 20-ton motion-capable ships’ bridges to desktop equipment, the center provides training and industrial response services, and it facilitates applied research for marine and offshore operations in harsh and challenging conditions. The center has its own development staff specializing in the design of hydrodynamic ship models, geographic databases, and programming to allow for specific training to be developed for clients. Specializing in ice navigation and operations in ice, the facility is currently involved in $10 million in research worth its collaborations, investigating technology to assist in exploration for hydrocarbon in ice covered waters.

Looking ahead to the future, Captain Hearn says, “I think the NL offshore industry as a whole is well suited to being a valuable resource in developing safe practices and technology for pursuing operations in challenging environments such as the Arctic. For once our geography works for us in that our climate and environment has required field operations to be very focused on ensuring that the exploration and production, as well as the logistics, of sustaining these operations occurs as safely as possible. This focus has required continued investment in the research and education facilities to provide the human resources needed to study, develop, and implement new strategies and it is these people that will help the industry grow.”


Tina Olivero

Tina Olivero

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