Jun 262009

A major multi-partner European research project aiming to tackle the problems posed by seafarer fatigue has been launched with a two-day inaugural meeting at Warsash, in the UK.

The European Commission-funded Project Horizon brings together 11 academic institutions and organisations with a broad range of interests from the shipping industry in a 30-month research programme to examine the way in which fatigue affects the cognitive performance of ships’ watchkeepers.

The €3.78m project will make extensive use of bridge, engine and liquid cargo handling simulators in Sweden and the UK to produce real-time, realistic scenarios in which the impact of fatigue on decision-making and performance can be assessed.

Launched in response to concern over aspects that lead to seafarer fatigue, the project seeks to improve safety at sea by developing a fatigue management toolkit for the industry, as well as recommendations for improving work patterns at sea.

‘Whilst we now have evidence to show the scale of the problem associated with fatigue amongst seafarers, this project will take the understanding to a new level based on robust and reliable empirical data that can be used to make concrete fact-based recommendations for avoiding or mitigating the dangers’, said project manager Graham Clarke.

The project brings together academics from Southampton Solent University in the UK, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, the Stress Research Institute from Stockholm University and Bureau Veritas Marine Division, along with representatives from the European Community Shipowners’ Associations, the European Transport Workers’ Federation, the European Harbour Masters Committee, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, the Standard P&I Club, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency.

Sixty deck and engineer officers will be taking part in the project, with their performance being measured by researchers as they undertake typical watchkeeping duties on simulators over a succession of seven-day periods.

Experts will use a variety of scientific methods to measure the fatigue levels experienced by the officers and any resulting degradation in performance during a wide range of regular onboard operating conditions.

“This project will allow the research team at Warsash to work with other academics in Europe to make a significant contribution to the scientific study of fatigue in seafarers. We look forward to what promises to be an exciting research challenge for us over the next three years,” said Professor Mike Barnett, Head of School of Management and Postgraduate Studies, Warsash Maritime Academy.


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