Oct 262014

This podcast has a special place in MAC’s heart – it was the very first one ever broadcast. At the time we did not have a video production capability or a recording studio so the sound quality may be least than ideal but the lessons remain very current.

An exhausted Captain; single watch-keeping; a warm, cozy bridge at night; the heavy traffic of the Kiel Canal, and pirated navigational software. If you think that sounds like a recipe for disaster, you’d be absolutely right.

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Fatigue Risk Management On The Horizon?

 fatigue, maritime safety news, stress  Comments Off on Fatigue Risk Management On The Horizon?
Mar 052012

At two stages of the ‘voyage’, the participants wore 10 electrodes that measured their brain activity, over two watch periods and two sleep periods. Data obtained enabled the research teams to analyse whether crew fell asleep during their watchkeeping work and were unable perform any key tasks.

Human science is a rarity in the merchant marine domain, there is nothing equivalent to the US Navy’s excellent TADMUS programme, so the release of preliminary findings of Project Horizon are welcome.  Undoubtedly its release will be met with “we knew that already” but its real value is putting number to what was already known, or suspected, and giving less wriggle room on the issue of safe manning – a markedly different issue from minimum manning – at the expense of seafarers being imprisoned for falling asleep on a poorly manned bridge.

The results of program, which involved 90 volunteers of a mix of nationalities and gender reflecting current ship manpower, under realistic living and work conditions, in a variety of simulators at Warsash and Chalmers, are chilling by not unexpected.

Says the prelimary report: “In all four of the watchkeeping sub-groups (4/8 and 6/6 at Chalmers and 6/6 deck and engineers at Warsash) there was evidence of full-blown sleep. Incidents of sleep on watch mainly occurred during night and early morning watches. At least one incident of microsleep was detected among 40% of team 1, 4/8, at Chalmers (the 0000-0400 watch), around 45% of team 1, 6/6, at Chalmers (0000-0600 watch) and around 40% for team 2, 6/6, at Chalmers (0600-1200 watch). At Warsash the rates varied from more than 20% of the 1800-0000 watch to 0% of the 0600-12000 watch. Falling asleep on the bridge is a main indicator of the effect of the watch on dangerous states of the crew”.

Key findings include:

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MAIB Catches A Bit Of Sleep

 AHTS, collision, contact, fatigue, grounding, maritime safety news, stress  Comments Off on MAIB Catches A Bit Of Sleep
Aug 202011

Fatigue or sleep inertia?

Sleep and fatigue are familiar tropes on MAC posts and two recently released reports from the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch highlight two issues, one familiar, the other less so – stress, fatigue and sleep inertia.

In the case of the FV Jack  Abry II grounding on the Isle of Rum, 31 January 2011, the skipper, who had been alone on watch in the wheelhouse, fell asleep and failed to make a course alteration. He had joined the vessel in Lochinver on the day of the accident after travelling from his home in France. It is likely the skipper became fatigued through a combination of personal stress, a prolonged period without sleep and poor quality rest before leaving his home, much of it possibly connected to domestic issues.

The wheelhouse watch alarm was not used, nor was best use made of the available navigational aids and crew.

Fatigue is not just lack of sleep and heightened stress levels. The brain has a rhythm of alertness, a circadian rhythm, which can increase the effect of fatigue. Taken together these effects do not just increase the chances of falling asleep but also increase the chances of bad decision-making. In the case of FV Jack  Abry II, the skipper did not take advantage of appropriately trained crew onboard to provide additional lookout duties. Continue reading »