Fatigue at sea


Should we be sleeping TWICE a day? Two shorter periods of slumber may suit our body clocks better and increase alertness

  • Sleeping for 8 hours is a modern concept and split sleep used to be normal
  • Sleeping in two chunks increases alertness and allows greater flexibility


Agreed, but what watch system makes it feasible except for a deep sea master?


That was my point exactly. The day and a half steam from the field to the base was OK even though we were 6 and 6.
Keeping the middle watch on a tanker when I was younger wasn’t so bad because of the slower speed of the tanker slowed down the clock changes.
It was worse eating the same food from the same cook for eight months and 6 and 6 in a port far away from anything meant there was no alternative.
It was a different story on a fast container ship at high latitudes with clocks every night. Everyone was sleep deprived, even the day workers.
As master I found an after lunch nap of about 20 to 30 minutes followed by a walk around the ship if conditions permitted worked fine.
12 and 12 is unworkable for a bridge watch keeper unless there is a third person who can be called to stand in from time to time.
6 and 6 has been dumped internationally because of the requirement that a watch keeper has to have the opportunity to have 6 hours uninterrupted sleep.


It’s almost the same as my schedule when I was C/M. Get up early - work till lunch, a few hour off then back to work.

04-08 watch
08-12 daywork
12-15 rest
15-16 daywork
16-20 watch.
20-04 rest

Same thing with the captain’s watch on 6 and 6. Up early, work till lunch, knock off for a bit then back to work

06-12 watch
12-18 off
18-24 watch
00-06 off


I like a 4/8 watch. Even with overtime the number of off watch hours allow for more flexibility in how to manage that time.
I’m still wondering how tugs benefit from 6/6. Shorthanded for maximum profits? Or dictated by the nature of the work? If so, how?


6 and 6 should be illegal worldwide
would it be legal to work any of the shifts that exist offshore in any industry on the land?


My bunkmate snores like a bored-out Harley. Must be sleep apnea or something. He’ll go quiet for a few minutes like he’s finally died, and just when I start to drift off, he kick-starts his tattered trachea and tears off down the road. Earplugs don’t help, and I can’t take Ambien. Anybody else have a similar experience? What’d you do?


Going on the opposite watch isn’t an option for him or you?


Unfortunately, no. Looks like I’m going to have to sleep in the engine room, where it’s quiet.


Sock party? Ala Full Metal Jacket style :japanese_ogre:


Are you sure HR wouldn’t frown on this?


Didn’t seem to bother the Gunny so I don’t see how they could have a problem with it. It’s staying below decks.


Your C/O’s working hours here break the Hours Of Rest regulations.


Sure, but there wasn’t any enforcement to speak of when I sailed C/M.

In the middle of a long passage I could cut back to working from 08-11 plus watch but working coastwise with picking up pilots, working cargo I often worked back-to-back 18 hr days with the junior mates on 6 and 6.

I’ve never made a trip fully in compliance. Now we push back against the schedules but in the end the terminals have the upper hand.

Anyway my point is the basic structure in a 24 hr cycle; work/rest/work/rest is present in both the 6x6 as it is with 4x8 when several hours of off-watch work is required.


I fully agree with you. Had a PSC inspector in Singapore ask how I had compensated the 3/O for his lost rest hours after he saw that he had turned to for an hour between 17-1800 one day when on the 8-12 (no other extra time on the form, just 08-12 and 20-24). I asked if he was taking the piss and he said he wasn’t, the 24h period can start whenever so if you take the 24h at 0400 that day then he was in breach for that day. Utter nonsense. All it does it make people tell lies on the form.


As a Surveyor I have been presented forms filled in for the entire month, although my inspection was on the 25th or so. Nobody had worked any extra time though, so all OK. :wink:


That’s what STCW work/rest enforcement has done, created a incentive to cheat.

Almost everyone knows the foreign flag ships are cheating. Problem is the more compliant the crew, the easier to cheat, the less complaint crews make it more difficult to cheat.

On ships with union crews which require tracking of work hours by contract makes it much more difficult to cheat. So surveyors and auditor that rubber stamp the cheating ships are creating an incentive for owners to get rid of crews that refuse to comply with cheating.


when I was on the US run rig it was 12/12 as you can imagine.
Have to admit, you are not very sharp the last few hours, luckily Shell insisted 2 on DP watch so new guy up every 6 hours.


Some people can get plenty of sleep in 12 hours when its divided up into two segments. Evidently some people can’t. The ones that can’t presumably self-select and avoid jobs the require six and six.


I doubt you would get a doctor to say 6 and 6 is healthy, does any other industry accept that as safe?
Eat and sleep inside of 6 hours, day in day out, no way
Do you live like that when you get home?
No wonder this forum has so many threads on unhealthy people, meds, obesity etc etc