Fatigue at Sea

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by deepdraft1, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    Here's a link to an interesting research film by Cardiff University, on seafarer fatigue.. Although it is done by the Brits, it applies to all ships, US included. Hopefully something eventually will be done to address some of the fatigue problems that the film highlights..
    http://gcaptain.com/seafarers-fatigue-research-film?27670
     
  2. OldAirForce

    OldAirForce Member

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    I only had a chance to watch a little of the video. I work in the rail industry and my company partnered with NASA/Ames a few years ago to do a similar study on train service employees. The main result was eat at regular hours and sleep regular hours. Not much help.
     
  3. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    In the maritime industry afloat to be able to eat and sleep at regular hours would mean spreading the work out among more people.. That means increasing crew size. Maybe that will happen at some point. But I don't hold out much hope for it happening soon; because most change in the maritime industry comes about at a glacial pace and many times it only happens as a result of a major catastrophe which involved loss of life or damage to the environmental.
     
  4. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    Six hours of sleep at a stretch would be great! I put in some long days as a cadet but they were relatively few. The longest days I ever saw anyone put in usually involved late night arrivals and departures and whoever had the duty the next day skipped it and slept. Of course being an engineer with an unmanned engine room we were all day workers so sleep really wasn't a problem.

    Working now in the tug and barge industry sleep is a big problem but not nearly as much Pfor the Captain and Mate. Being on a 6 and 6 schedule they usually never have to be up for anything outside their watch. It's us Engineers that probably are the worst violative of any work-hour rules. I can't tell you how many times I have had to take on fuel or change oil and filters or be called out for some kind of casualty during a supposed rest period. When you are the Chief/Assistant/QMED/Wiper all rolled into one it kind of happens. Tack on calls from the office and paperwork tha just can't wait and I would say 18 on/6 off is more the norm. 4-5 hours of actual sleep is just the reality.

    It is in the CFRs that voyages over 600 miles require a 3 watch system but I can tell you that that is routinely ignored. Whenever the USCG has come aboard they ask about crew rest and fatigue. They get some kind of evasive non-answer from the office person and everyone nods like all is good because frankly I dont think the Coast Guard knows what to do either. In the meantime life continues as before.
     
  5. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    On one of the ships I sailed 3/M on we as a crew debated giving one of the "alternate" work schedules a try. In the end we decided to just stick with what we had 4on/8off (more like 8on/4off/4on/8off) because it was a known entity.

    The other schedule we looked at was something like 3on/3off/5on/13off (I don't remember exactly, but it worked out where you were on the same hours each day).

    The best sleep/wake cycle ship I was on was a tanker that sailed with 2 third mates. The chief mate wasn't a watch stander, but would be there for docking/undocking and therefore whoever was in the "middle" of their sleep didn't get woken up for that.
     
  6. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    I can address some of the tug/barge work schedules here. Now, my info is a bit dated, but some still applicable. When I first started working on ocean tugs, about a year after graduation, it was for a major ocean towing/transportation outfit that is even larger now. We ran a regular run from Louisiana to Puerto Rico. I was an engineer, so that meant that after my training period, I WAS the engine department. I stood the 8-12 watch each day, and left the machinery space "unmanned" the rest of the time. My cabin was adjacent to the engine room in most boats, and I would also respond to all alarms and other requests from the deck department or the cook.

    The deck department on those tugs worked the three watch system, with the Captain on the 8-12 and the other watches split between the Chief and Second Mates.

    When I left the cushy trailer barge run to the Caribbean, I then moved to an integrated tug/Barge; one of the earlier, if not the first Articulated tug/barge design. This vessel was operated by a Scottish ship management company and was their only domestic US flag vessel. In the engine room we had the Chief (me) and an assistant. It was my option as to whether we stood one twelve or two six hour watches each day. I ended settling on 6 hour watches while underway and 12 hour watches in port. Not very effective, either way. The deck department was on the three watch cycle, however. I worked on this particular vessel for some time, and was able to get them to add another engineer and we worked the three watch system. Since we were attached to the barge (a petroluem product barge), there was always work to do in and outside of the engine room.

    The trend that I have seen for all of shipping, and not just in the US, is the reduction of crew costs. This can be achieved by reducing the number of personnel onboard the vessels, as well as by cutting their pay via outsourcing the crew and officers to nations where there is a lower per capita income. US merchant seamen faced outsourcing long before their onshore counterparts.

    The first couple of ships that I sailed on had crews of 35-35 personnel. Now, many ships get by with less than 20. On the ITB that I sailed on, we had 12 and that included two non watchstanding tankermen.
     

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