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Fatigue onboard

Raising awareness: The Nautical Institute reporting plan

David Patraiko BSc, MBA, FNI had been working flat out for three days
preparing for the inspection.
Director of Projects The seriousness of this practice of
‘flogging logs’ extends beyond the issue of
falsifying records because it leads to the
undermining of authority and general
The International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations disrespect for the application of all
(IFSMA) asked The Nautical Institute to outline and regulations. Another member recently
articulate Institute members' views on fatigue to the 37th reported:
‘I really do not enjoy asking my crew
meeting of the IMO STW sub-committee in January. to sign off anything that is not true,
This article is based on David Patraiko's presentation. or at the very least useful in some
way… After complaining to
management soon after I joined
about time-wasting paper exercises, I
atigue on board ships exists, leads ship visits. Pilots are quick to recognise was told in no uncertain terms that

F to accidents and incidents and left

unchecked, will create an
environment where the retention
of qualified crews will be increasingly
difficult. Due to a culture where there can be
fatigue in vessels arriving in port, with one
‘It is sometimes obvious that the
master on a master-plus-one-mate
coaster is exhausted on occasion.
it is normal and the only possible
way to comply.’

Regulations and research

All this is happening despite some very
a general disrespect for regulations (not to This is exacerbated in poor weather. I good, comprehensive regulations and
be confused with the compliance culture) have boarded such vessels and it is guidelines on fatigue and safe manning.
and a ‘can do’ attitude of seafarers, it is not uncommon for the master to be One of the best is IMO’s own ‘Guidance on
difficult to gauge the extent of the problem resting when the pilot boards or Fatigue Mitigation and Management’
because work/rest hour logs do not reflect a disappear soon afterwards, blatantly (MSC/Circ. 1014 – part of which is
problem. However, anecdotal evidence ignoring his responsibilities. It reprinted on pp 7-9). Regulations are
constantly reported to The Nautical could, of course, be argued that it is explicit and implicit in STCW, ILO, the ISM
Institute indicates that fatigue and manning better he rests and is available at a Code, guidance provided by the US Coast
levels are of major concern to mariners. In more critical point in the passage.’ Guard (in its Crew Endurance
response to this the Institute has begun However, perhaps more alarming are Management practices) as well as a wealth
work on a programme to raise the comments from pilots about how tired the of knowledge from a wide range of other
awareness of fatigue on board and promote crews are when they leave again. industries. Other sources of research and
best practices for management and It is for this reason that The Nautical guidance include the UK MAIB (bridge
mitigation techniques. Institute wants to participate with the watchkeeping safety study); recent studies
The Nautical Institute represents about industry to get these issues out in the reported to the IMO from the governments
7,000 members from more than 110 open, where they can be addressed. One of the Netherlands and Korea; Seafarers
countries – and it is from these members major problem that needs to be recognised International Research Centre (SIRC); the
and others that we hear what a major is that STCW/ILO work- and rest-hours Swedish Transport Institute (VTI); and the
concern fatigue is. In the recent logs are routinely falsified on some Hong Kong Shipowners Association.
President’s questionnaire, 64 per cent of vessels. We do not know how widespread Fatigue can be hard to define and
respondents (the highest level) reported this is but it is more than an inconse- measure, it can incorporate many issues
that fatigue was their major concern quential percentage. It has been reported such as work, boredom, circadian rhythms
(followed by manning, 60 per cent; collision to us in public forums, in correspondence, and the quality and quantity of rest. Lack
avoidance, 60 per cent and leadership, 54 in MARS reports and in person. of rest and fatigue can accumulate; in fact
per cent). Within the last year the Institute I myself recall that during an inspection long-term fatigue even within
has held five major international a few years ago, while working as a recommended work hours is becoming
conferences in Norway, the UK, India surveyor, I inspected an immaculately more prevalent. Our manpower shortage in
(Mumbai and Delhi) and Singapore, none maintained work-hours log indicating that some sectors is leading to longer sea terms
of which were targeted at fatigue but in all everything was within regulations; it was due to the inability to find reliefs. To many
of which discussions quickly came round only afterwards, during a casual mariners, however, a simple definition of
to the problem. Further reports come from conversation with the chief mate, that he fatigue could be: long hours plus stress. If
MARS, letters to Seaways, meetings and confessed how tired he was because he we accept that the seafaring profession
Seaways March 2006
has traditionally required long hours to be ● Emphasis on paperwork and continuously on anti-piracy watches;
worked, the causes of stress in our current documentation. at night on bridge we have
environment need to be examined. Once mariners retuning to port after a continuous lookouts. Then
rough sea passage could look forward to a approaching the sunken wreck off
bit of rest in port but times have changed Horsburg lighthouse at midnight, we
Stress at sea/in port
and ports are often far more stressful than transit the straits of Singapore at 20
Although the IMO’s guidance on fatigue
time at sea. Stress for officers in port has kts en route to Malaysia ETA 0500
management extensively details sources of
increased due to: hrs. High speeds have higher stresses,
fatigue, some areas of increased stress on
● Pressure for fast turnaround times, as when overtaking in such narrow
mariners are worth reviewing:
often to catch weather or port movement traffic separation scheme at a closest
● Physical environment – issues of
windows; point of approach of two cables at
temperature, vibration, motion, light etc;
● Proliferation of inspections, often times. We get pilot on arrival then
● Commercial environment – more
carried out with hostile attitudes and berthing stations followed by cargo
demanding targets for effective operations
always during cargo operations; ops. There are three gantry cranes in
at sea and in port (real or perceived);
● Extra burden of security; operation, which means that besides
● Political environment – lack of respect
● Environmental regulations workload; the duty officer and gangway ISPS
from shore workers and management, fear
● Liability and criminalisation risks. watch, there are two more seamen on
of criminalisation and liabilities; and
With these increased demands, why do deck to check for any container
● Personal environment – look at family
mariners take the self-defeating step of damage, reefers plugging and
problems, mental health, shore leave,
falsifying work hour logs? I suggest this unplugging etc. The Chief is off, being
drugs and alcohol abuse. comes out of the ‘can-do’ attitude of busy with preparing IMDG cargo
The best way to recover from fatigue is seafarers. The very nature of the job lists, reefer lists and checking
by rest; but the ability to relax on board can breeds a culture of self reliance, which is stability and ballasting/deballasting
be compromised by the difficulty of finding admirable in general, but often leads to the operations. In addition, in port there
time (often impossible in port); the fact that continuance of bad design, unworkable are mandatory items like lifeboat
‘hours of rest’ are not always spent asleep procedures and poor regulations. In many lowering (though not every voyage)
but are used for eating, sleeping, studying cases, if conscientious mariners don’t alert or checking the pilot-side access
and so on; the need for the physical management to pressures and stresses, door’s watertightness through the
environment to be conducive to rest; the they cannot hope for anything to be underdeck passage (can maintain
need for a social environment; and training changed for the better. Unfortunately, these only in port). Completed cargo
for the crew in relaxation techniques. however, I suspect that in many cases ops around 1400 hours. Departure
This final point is a tricky one. As the management does not want to hear about station, mandatory stowaway search
issue of fatigue becomes better recognised, problems: in extreme cases employment as per ISPS, undocked and pilot off
it is far too easy for people ashore to talk can be at risk for those intent on around 1530 and then transit
of fixing the situation through diet and compliance with regulations. There can Singapore straits to arrive eastern
exercise. However motivation is the key – also be vast discrepancies in the boarding grounds around 1800 for
you can’t take a mariner who has a interpretation of ‘work’ and ‘rest’ hours. If pilot, berthing around 1900 hrs.
penchant for fried food and movies and ask a chief mate remains on deck due to lack of Arrival Singapore: cargo ops
him to eat salad and exercise in order to confidence in a junior officer during cargo again, three or sometimes four
become a more commercially efficient operations, is he ‘working’ even though he cranes and to top it, there is crew
employee. may be ‘off duty’? And if day workers are change, provisions, stores and
Increased stress for officers at sea knocked off for a few hours during the day bunkers. This continues till 1300 hrs
includes the following factors: for ‘rest hours’ if a late departure is the next day followed by departure
● Ships are larger, faster and navigate to anticipated, will they actually rest? stations and then transit Singapore
closer tolerances of navigational hazards; straits. Bridge manned by master,
● Navigation watches have fewer people Incident reporting duty officer, lookout and at night,
and more technology. Although properly The Nautical Institute is encouraging the anti-piracy watches for two nights
designed and implemented technology can reporting of situations that have resulted transiting Gelasa and Sunda straits
help, technology often needs to be in fatigue. The objective is to make these for the next two nights. So whichever
individually monitored. It can be reports publicly available via our website way you look at it, no one on board
distracting in cases of alarms or poor so that all those dealing with this issue is spared the fatigue levels. Rest
human-machine interfaces (HMI); may better understand the reality of the hours are violated every voyage.
● Poor training can result in technology situation onboard ships around the world. Considering the high traffic
appearing intimidating; They are not meant to apportion blame but density, entering and departing
● Increased environmental regulation rather to provide illustrative accounts of Singapore is a very stressful exercise
workload; onboard environments as they exist today. for the master in particular and the
● Risk of piracy and terrorism; The reports are, therefore, ‘hypothetical’ ship in general.
● Non-navigational tasks being performed and confidential. ■ Joining for the first time as a
on the bridge such as communications Here are a couple of typical examples tanker master. It is planned that you
(GMDSS, VTS, commercial) and cargo from received reports: join your vessel in the US after
monitoring; ■ Container ship. Coming from briefing at an Asian city. Generally
● Commercial pressure for speed in Australia through Sunda straits and contracts and tickets are given a few
reduced visibility; Gelasa straits, the crew is hours’ prior to flying. Once you
Seaways March 2006
arrive at the city after a long night We also encourage all those in the industry information and communication
flight, you are asked to make your to use these reports to better acquaint technology. With the advent of fixed-price,
own hotel arrangements. After themselves with these realistic situations high bandwidth ship-shore communication
getting freshened up you go to the in order to promote practical solutions. links, it will be possible to delegate many
office for briefing. Still jet-lagged, Crew fatigue on board is a complex time-consuming administrative duties to
you are given a briefing that is often issue that will require the cooperation of shore-based personnel. There is also no
done in such haste that you will all industry sectors and stakeholders. We excuse for anyone concerned with onboard
reach the ship totally confused and must certainly take a closer look at the fatigue not to raise awareness of the
tired. Everyone wants to brief on manning levels in relation to the tasks that problem with those on the ship and
their section without bothering to see need doing. A blanket proposal to add address some of the basic issues relating
if you understand it or not. Towards another crew member to all vessels will not to diet, exercise, relaxation techniques and
the end you are asked to sign a be the best answer for the industry (even if physical condition, as outlined in the IMO
briefing form. In the office you are they could be found) but, adding the documentation and elsewhere.
informed that ship is due to complete correctly skilled person to certain types of For our part, The Nautical Institute will
loading and you will get about four ships on certain runs may be the best continue its cooperation with IFSMA and
hours for takeover. In this time I solution. Arthur Bowring’s article on other organisations to raise the awareness
think you can only take over the cash pp 10-12 outlines some of these options. All of fatigue issues on ships. We shall work
and sign and get ready to face the new regulations should be assessed for through our members, branches, the
consequences as and when they come. their ‘task impact’ on crews, including any human element initiative and publications
Anyway, too late to react. Once you excess workload involved in to promote best practice for managing and
are seen off with good wishes from implementation. We need to ensure that all mitigation techniques. We also strongly
the office, you are in the hotel not to operational workloads, including urge shipowners/managers and govern-
take rest but for your next flight. management and commercial, are taken ment administrations to more clearly
After picking up your luggage you into account when setting ‘safe’ manning define task management and realistic
are at the airport with a stopover in levels and we must create an environment manning levels for safety and
some country to change flights. for honest work-hour reporting so that the effectiveness. We would like to see the
After such a long flight, by the industry can better assess and manage creation of an environment for the realistic
time you arrive in the US you are fatigue. reporting of work/rest hours and of fatigue
tired, exhausted and terribly jet- Much more can also be done to manage problems, and the encouragement of
lagged. From the airport you are and mitigate fatigue onboard within research into the effects and mitigation of
thrown on to the ship where another existing manning levels. The US Coast fatigue. A concerted effort to reduce the
anxious person is waiting for you to Guard’s Crew Endurance Management effect of criminalisation and poor respect
listen to him, take over the cash so practices outline how a small team can of shipboard personnel by those ashore
that he can wash his hands of it and take ownership of fatigue issues onboard, will also be crucial for reducing fatigue as
say goodbye with the parting shot identify issues and work with management well as retaining quality crew. An
that his tenure was beautiful and he to address them. In one example, a crew international workforce of competent and
never had any problems. Now, if identified that a single door between an capable (non-fatigued) seafarers benefits
something goes wrong who will be accommodation space and the engine room all those in the industry and the world.
responsible? was allowing heat, fumes and noise to ■ All projects, documents and research
The next port from Houston is disturb the rest of anyone in the area. mentioned in this report will be available
about 33 hours away. There you have After consultation with management, a or linked to from
discharging operations. After secondary door was installed to reduce the
discharging, you sail back to disturbance. Many companies have also
Houston for loading. In this time you experimented with alternate watch Fatigue reporting
have to prepare tanks for loading, schedules, and we hope to feature some of
All mariners are encouraged to report
send all mandatory messages to these in future issues of Seaways. Others
issues relating to fatigue to The
USCG, get familiarised with the have looked at the practices of other Nautical Institute either as a
vessel, certificates etc. If before industries and found some success with hypothetical example and/or confiden-
joining the master is supposed to go models such as aircrew fatigue evaluation tially. After being assessed and
to the office for briefing, isn’t it (SAFE); and Fatigue Audit InterDyne disidentified, these reports will be
necessary for the master to be (FAID). placed on publicly accessible database
adequately rested before reaching the The Institute will also look at the located at
vessel? Can’t this briefing procedure possibility of applying the artificial Reports can be submitted
be done over three days so that it is intelligence tool known as ‘constraint to or filed
done in a proper way and the master based reasoning’. This technique is anonymously via our web-based
gets enough rest? increasingly used to schedule logistics and reporting form, or sent by post to
may be used to create more realistic Fatigue Reports, The Nautical
What to do? manning models. Institute, 202 Lambeth Road, London
We want to encourage all mariners to Other options exist to augment onboard SE1 7LQ, UK.
report issues leading to fatigue, both as manning, such as increasing personnel in Trainers in particular are
‘hypothetical’ situations and confidentially. port to assist with inspections or cargo encouraged to promote reports from
All reports will be vetted for ‘realisticness’; operations or by reducing onboard their students.
disidentified and posted on our website. administrative burdens through the use of
Seaways March 2006