Page 78: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (April 2016)

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Battle in the Bedroom

Industry Study on Work Schedules and Rest Periods reignites decades-old discussion on what constitutes enough sleep and in what ‘watch format’ will that adequate rest be achieved.


It wasn’t too long ago that the Ameri- sailing on vessels employing a “4 on / es up hard feelings from brown water watches. Suf? ce it to say, on a coastwise can Waterways Operators (AWO), the 8 off” system of watches, while AWO’s stakeholders who increasingly complain chemical tanker, that schedule was fre- national trade association for the tug- membership almost overwhelmingly that blue water practices and regulations, quently interrupted by any number of boat, towboat and barge industry, hailed employ the traditional workboat “6 on / STCW ‘creep’ and other policies are be- events. And, I have my own thoughts on a study conducted for the Transportation 6 off” schedule. It also goes without say- ing pushed down onto smaller, brown adequate rest periods and how best to

Research Board of the National Acad- ing that any changes in the brown water water workboats with little consider- achieve that goal. I’m not sure you could emies of Sciences, Engineering and system of manning and watch systems ation as to whether they ? t, or not. And, do it under any watch system.

Medicine which concluded that “[t]here could potentially cost industry millions with the impending subchapter M tow- Looking back, it seems like I spent is currently no scienti? c data to support if it had to retool into the blue water boat rules lurking just around the corner, most of my watchkeeping time on the [...] a change in hours of service” for practice of rotating watches stood usu- it’s safe to say that many stakeholders 12-to-4 watch. That’s a good thing, towing vessel crewmembers. Around the ally by three of? cers, as opposed to two. are likely following the matter closely. because I liked those hours, for some same time, International Organization of Conversely, any move to change blue strange reason. And for a guy (today)

Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P) Vice water manning models to more closely In the Real World who goes to bed before 10 PM on a regu-

President George Quick also weighed conform to the brown water standard I honestly don’t have an opinion about lar basis, it wouldn’t seem that the 12-to- in and said there is “a serious credibility might mean the reduction of manning which system of watches – or others that 4 slot would have suited me, but, it did.

issue” with the paper, calling it “essen- levels even below today’s relatively lean may be employed elsewhere – is better Sailing Second Mate on an aging tially an advocacy position paper for the schemes for ocean going, deep draft ton- than the other. And, as an upfront dis- chemical carrier in the mid-1980’s, I

American Waterways Operators.” nage. And, no self-respecting seagoing claimer, I’m no expert on sleep science liked the solitude of the midwatch. You

It should also come as no surprise that union man wants to see that happen, or ef? ciency metrics. All of that said, I were less likely to see the Captain up at both camps – MM&P and AWO – reside right? can say that when I did go to sea – all those hours, much less anyone else, and on opposite sides of the argument with Although not at the heart of this par- of six years – I always did so on vessels it limited the amount of time that the

Quick’s largely blue water membership ticular matter, the discussion also dredg- employing the “4 on / 8 off” system of grouchy old man could reprimand me photo credit: istock 78 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • APRIL 2016

MR #4 (74-81).indd 78 4/11/2016 2:00:38 PM

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