Archive for the 'Safety at Sea' Tag


Crew Rest?

February 2009


Okay, here’s weekend topic raised, in part, by a news article about a merchant ship running aground because the man on watch fell asleep (see also here).

It was my experience in the surface warfare world that there was a tendency for watch officers to “burn the candle at both ends” – usually a result of demands placed on them by work load, drills and the like. In fact, there has been a sort of perverse pride in long hours with little or no sleep.

In the aviation community, there is a certain amount of mandated “crew rest” after flying and before being eligible to fly again: OPNAVINST 3710.7T states : Flight Crew and Flight Support Personnel. Commanders should make available eight hours for sleep during every 24-hour period. Schedules will be made with due consideration for watch standing, collateral duties, training, and off-duty activities. Flight Crew. Ground time between flight operations should be sufficient to allow flight crew to eat and obtain at least 8 hours of uninterrupted rest. Flight crew should not be scheduled for continuous alert and/or flight duty (required awake) in excess of 18 hours. If it becomes necessary to exceed the 18-hour rule, 15 hours of continuous off-duty time shall be provided.

Now, here’s the question should similar rest requirements be put in place for shipboard watch standers, especially those on the bridge?