Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm / BNWAS

[B]What is BNWAS supposed to remedy ? Watchstander fatigue ? Is BNWAS the cure here; just put a buzzer beside the OOW to keep him awake ? [/B]


How To Stay Awake[/B]

Yes. It’s to keep the watch awake.

We had a deadman alarm on a ship I was on for the bridge. We were alone from sunrise to sunset, but the thing was more of a pain in the ass than anything else. I’m not one to fall asleep on watch, but it would definitely have woken me up if I was.

Definately needed by ATCs…

we have a strict two man bridge watch policy whenever were underway.

The BNWAS may prevent you from falling asleep but it won’t keep you from making poor, fatigue-tainted decisions.

On my ship the three watch officers stand a modified watch schedule that gives each of them eight hours of bridge time per day but also ensures each OOW can get at least one ten hour block of rest per day. Their work hours are broken up to allow for different mental tasks - something that research shows is important in maintaining alertness. We went to this schedule to remove the fatigue barrier in the watchstander’s decision making. My guys all wake up before their alarms and don’t need wakeup calls. They show up mentally prepared for watch, because they aren’t hampered with sleep debt.

Keeping someone awake with a buzzer won’t correct the mind’s ability to misinterpret data when it’s tired.

It’s just another tool in the bridge. Some of the better companies interface motion detectors in the bridge to accomplish having a passive system. If someone is there and awake, you will never know about having a dead man alarm. Funny that I read “we have a company policy that requires 2 in the bridge”. I guess that is good, but I wonder what instigated the need for the company to even have a policy for something as simple as an appropriate navigation watch…if you comply with the rules of the road, on the level that you should, you would have two in the bridge minus what any company has to say about it. Policy or not. My standing orders have always required that, at a minimum. There is a reason why “class” requires redundancy on equipment, and if the crew doesn’t replicate the same thing with the people, it really doesn’t make sense no matter how you look at it.

It all boils down to fatigue. A company that installs and mandates the use of watch alarms is acknowledging that fatigue is an issue on their vessels and that they think an alarm will solve the problem. Anchorman has a good point about redundancy in equipment. It’s a shame that companies want to ignore the facts of physiology and expect us to be macho and “work through the pain” like tough guys. We’re just not wired to do what is asked of us over the arc of a career at sea.

@ Dougpine,

It’s not a matter of companies installing BNWAS; this will become mandatory, opening all kinds of avenues for misuse, and abuse.

Up until now it has been a matter of companies installing BNWAS. Uninspected fishing vessels and OSVs and many others have had them on their bridges for years. In my experience I have seen that most of them are quickly disabled by the crews.

Mandatory fitting of a BNWAS on newbuild vessels is due to come into force in July 2011 and then on existing vessels from July 2012.