Well, here’s a welcome bit of common sense rules regarding sleep requirements for sailors. What’s the problem with sleep? It’s that the sailors haven’t been getting any! From a Navy Times article (1),
“Government watchdog studies have found sailors on ships working more than 100 hours a week, and have cautioned that this can lead to fatigue and reduced readiness.”
The standard U.S. business work week is 40 hours so 100 hours is 2.5 normal work weeks compressed into one, week after unrelenting week. How long do you think you could do that before sheer, overwhelming fatigue began to make you lethargic and mistake prone?
Now, the Navy has issued new crew sleep guidance.
“In an internal Navy message issued Friday, Rowden said surface fleet skippers will be required to implement watch schedules and shipboard routines that better sync with circadian rhythms and natural sleep cycles.”
“Such a move aims to give sailors a more consistent and less erratic sleep schedule, resulting in a more rested and alert crew.”
“In further guidance sent out this week, skippers were given the choice from among several watch schedules that follow this natural cycle, according to copies of the messages obtained by Navy Times.
While the guidance does not mandate any specific schedule, it will likely mean the end of grueling 5-hours on, 10-hours off watch schedules, known as “five and dimes,” because that does not align with circadian rhythms and a 24-hour daily cycle.”
Well, that sounds great. No more fatigued crews.
“You’re going to have to form some level of watch bill that protects sailors’ sleep,” Naval Surface Force spokesman Cmdr. John Perkins said.”
Of course, one can’t help but wonder how crews are going to get that sleep given that the reason they’re working 100 hour weeks now is because most ships are significantly undermanned. The manning shortfall is going to be even more pronounced if more of the crew is sleeping more of the time! This is what lead to the widespread use of waivers to get around all those nasty expired seamanship and warfare certifications that happened due to lack of time. Are we just going read the new sleep guidelines, congratulate ourselves, brag to Congress about our
reactive actions, and then begin issuing waivers? History says, yes. History says shipboard fatigue and mistakes
are not going to go away. History says
the Navy will find ways around the new rules just as they find ways around all
rules that aren’t convenient.
|No More Tired Sailors or Just More Waivers To Issue?|
Optimal manning is not conducive to a good night’s sleep!
(1)Navy Times website, “Navy issues new sleep and watch schedule rules for the surface fleet”, Geoff Ziezulewicz,