The British Navy is to use PlayStation Portables, to help train its officers. Engineering personnel, responsible for maintaining the fleet’s radar, sonar and communications systems, are the first to use the gadgets. If the trial proves successful, other sailors will also get a chance to play.
The PSPs are being used to help officers revise for exams and come preloaded with slides and commentary prepared by instructors, in study packages of between eight and twelve minutes each.
Lieutenant-Commander Mark ‘Beasty’ Williams, the man behind the trial, says: “On most ships, the space people have is quite small. Many have bunks with just a couple of feet [of space] above. This is the sort of thing that can be used in a bunk space.”
The Royal Navy weapons engineering school has so far bought 230 PSPs for the trial, but some senior officers appear unconvinced of the need for electronic study aids: “We are working on the premise that looking at a book is now seen as dull and boring,” said Commander Trevor Price. “When I was at school you sat at your desk and you did your work and that was it.”
But he added that he supposed training had to adapt for a generation that ‘no longer naturally studied from books’.