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Author Topic: Watch stander fatigue study  (Read 2527 times)
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Charles McAllister
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« on: August 28, 2007, 04:52:20 pm »

This is not good if valid:

What do the ships' officers here think of this report?

Is the study valid?
Is this as severe a problem as it appears in the article?
Recomendations for improving the situation, if the problem is real?
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Ben Backstay
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2007, 07:43:03 pm »

It is well known in the industry that this is a major problem. The workload on a ships officer is immense these days. The added pressure is the amount of paperwork/admin every officer has to complete each day. This is compounded by the fact that crewing levels are at a minimum on all ships. Since the Chief Steward / Purser and the Radio Officer were removed, the amount of paperwork has increased beyond belief, with less people to do it.

Also most crews from Eastern Europe and Far East do 9 months tour of duty, with very little rest. Fatigue is a real problem, coupled with a poor skill level on many cheaper crewed ships, it is surprising there are not more accidents/ collisions

I believe MISC now employ an additional officer just to do the admin.
Perhaps the tide has turned and the manning levels will come back to a realistic figure soon.
When I was first at sea 30 years ago, fatigue was never a problem. OK, it was a different world then, but we had the manning levels at a sufficient number to deal with everything.

This is definately not the case these days.
Hopefully this report will get things changed for the better. I know the British officers union and the MCA are also doing studies, but if one flag state imposes a higher manning requirement for a ship, the owner reflags to a state that is happy for the ship to sail with a lower crew. The problem is very difficult to solve until the rules are fixed globally.

Most ship owners settle for the cheapest manning option available, even though it might have cost implications in other budgets.

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Bjarne Pettersen
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2007, 08:56:15 pm »

It is indeed a wellknown problem. Not only admin work but also the oversight of loading/discharging while also having to stand watch between ports. The problem gets worse for the ships with frequent calls on ports i.e ships in the coastal trade.

It should be remarked that more and more vessels are equipped with motion detecters on the bridge to vounter this problem.

These will sound an alarm on the bridge, failing to get a response there it will sound in the backup navigators cabin, and in the end sound in all cabins with watchkeeping officers including the captain.

But this is a serious problem that cannot be countered by technical means alone.

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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2007, 10:44:39 pm »

i was at sea as a mate and a captain for 22 years in the european coastal trade,and i know the problem of fatigue very good.with 180 to 200 overtimes in the month you are overtired.we had on our vessels always an AB together with the mate or the captain on bridge.but the most companies don't do this anymore ,against the law,because they want to save the overtimes for the crew.mostly the fatigue don't happen with bad weather or dense fog,it happened on nice days and nights at sea with "easy sailing".just sitting in the chair in front of the radar,suddenly the eyes are closed for seconds.there were already some big accidents with big damage by hitting lighttowers or rocks.
i don't know nobody who has never had the problem of fatigue at sea.
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Captain John K
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« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2007, 03:00:03 pm »

"against the law" I would ask you to prove that statement as I do not believe it to be true. I do agree with the statement that most companies do allow only one watchstander during the day but I personally don't know any that allow this to happen at night. I'm not saying I believe it doesn't happen just that I've never seen it except for very short periods of time.

As far as the report, I would say it is accurate. I have fallen asleep once on watch as a young third mate, not something I will ever forget. As mooringman said it happens on "easy sailing"... but I think there is one omnipresent problem more dangerous than an accidental nap in open water. It's motivation. I've found the problem with being tired is that it's much harder to complete the everyday tasks that are essential to a safe watch. It might be forgetting to take every fix or deciding not to take the extra collision avoidance steps you might make at the radar if you were awake and bored. What tasks you do have the motivation to tackle take longer and are more difficult.

It's a major problem and one that this captain now wishes he managed better.
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Stephen Lee
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2007, 02:47:06 pm »

Hi Everyone
I agree with gcaptain,
I have also fallen asleep on watch,I must have slept for 5 mins frightned me to death. I have noticed on some ships bridges Red bull and packs of pro plus,
I had a friend that fell asleep on a super tanker coming in to the English chanel
REGARDS Stephen :pint:
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