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Report reveals captains are ‘suffering more fatigue and stress than crew’

A three-year report into the long-term fatigue of seafarers has been presented to delegates of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), revealing that “captains suffer from fatigue and stress more than their crews”.

Presented at the HTW Sub-Committee meeting on Monday 30th January 2017, the $1million MARTHA project gathered a large database of new information from 1,000 seafarers, and carried out a field study of over 100 seafarers working at sea worldwide, with data collected on their fatigue levels, sleep patterns and psychological wellbeing.

The report was coordinated by researchers at Warsash Maritime Academy, part of Southampton Solent University, and partners from Sweden, Denmark, China and the UK.

According to a recent press release issued by the Solent Southampton Press Office, “it was a highly appropriate venue and time for the launch of this new study”.

Spokespeople from the Press Office explained that “fatigue can result in long term physical and mental health issues, motivation decreases over the length of the voyage; and night watch keepers get significantly less total sleep than others on board.

“Analysis of the large data set is providing new insights into the psychological wellbeing of seafarers after long periods on board – including the finding that individual mood and social cohesion on board start to suffer after 6 months on board.”

During the study, volunteers wore Actiwatches for extended periods to register their intervals of activity and sleep.

Claire Pekcan, Professor of Maritime Applied Psychology at Warsash worked on the actigraphy analysis with Dr Anne Hillstrom of the University of Southampton. She said, “The actigraphy analysis has been particularly interesting and demonstrates how the overall amount of sleep decreases over time on board, and how the quality of sleep, as measured through disturbances to sleep, increases the longer crew are on board.”

Other important issues discovered include the differences in perception of fatigue between seafarers managed by European companies and Chinese-owned companies, and the effects of port visits on workload and fatigue.

Captain Kuba Szymanski, secretary general of InterManager was responsible for the dissemination of the findings to the shipping industry. He said, “A series of workshop events for managers and seafarers world-wide have been conducted in locations like Singapore and Manila and more are planned for 2017. The outcomes of these workshops are included in the final report, which provides both useful guidance for companies wishing to improve their understanding of fatigue, as well as a blueprint for resolving issues”.

For more information, visit Warsash Maritime Acadamy. Or to request a copy of the full report, register your interest at secretary@intermanger.org.

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