Naval officers issued PSPs as training tool

The Royal Navy has started issuing Sony Playstation Portables (PSPs) to sailors as a learning aid while at sea.

The sailors will use the PSPs to read and listen to coursework and practice on-screen tests while in their quarters.

The devices will be issued to trainee officers approximately three months before they commence their studies – enabling them to prepare for their subjects in advance, particularly maths.

The consoles will be preloaded with training software comprising slides and commentary prepared by instructors compacted into bursts of between eight and twelve minutes each.

The consoles are bright blue and worth £120 each and are being designed to be used by officers to improve their maths and physics whilst on patrol.

Marine warfare engineering technicians who are responsible for maintaining the fleet’s radar, sonar, VHF radio and communications systems will be the first to receive the devices.

The programme was developed at the Maritime Warfare School at HMS Collingwood at Fareham in Hampshire – which trains electrical engineers for the Navy. Instructors are trying to reduce drop out and retake rates on courses, which are as high as 25 percent.

“On most ships, the space people have is quite small. Many have bunks with just a couple of feet above. This is the sort of thing that can be used in a bunk space,” said Lieutenant-Commander Mark “Beasty” Williams, who developed the programme.

Trials were popular with sailors, who were familiar with the PSP commands. Incidentially, Sony’s target market for the PSP is predominantly males between the ages of 18 and 30.

Sailors are free to play games on the console as well as study after naval chiefs decided against disabling the universal minidisc (UMD) drive.

“I thought if we don’t disable it, it’ll be better looked after,” said Williams who pointed out that the engineers would most likely be able to hack into the PSPs and jailbreak them anyway.

The Navy issues bright blue PlayStation portable consoles with a case, earpiece and lanyard. The alternative colour offered was pink but was rejected. If the devices are a success, the programme could be expanded throughout the Navy.

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