[B]I happen to agree 100%. It is time for this two watch system insanity to END.[/B]
[B]From the “Daily Telegraph”[/B] (the bold italics in the body of the article are mine)
The MAIB report on the grounding of the “Antari” can be found [B]here[/B]
[B]‘Exhausted sailors working 98 hour weeks’ [/B]
[B]Exhausted sailors working 98 hour weeks are regularly falling asleep at the helm, turning their ships into "unguided missiles" which could cause a major disaster off the UK coast, an independent watchdog warns. [/B] By Caroline Gammell Last Updated: 12:02AM GMT 19 Feb 2009
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch said it was only a matter of time before a “catastrophic accident” took place in UK waters.
It called on the Government to take immediate action to ensure that ships were properly manned.
In its latest report, the MAIB cited the example of the cargo vessel Antari which ran aground on the Antrim coast in Northern Ireland in June last year.
The officer of the watch, who was alone on duty, fell asleep for three hours and was only woken when the 88 metre vessel, carrying 2,360 tons of scrap, had beached itself.
Nearly three quarters of the hull was damaged and dented, while the grounding had punctured the bottom of the ship.
The MAIB discovered that the officer had been working six hours on, six hours off for the previous three and a half months.
He had fallen asleep in the wheelhouse almost as soon as he had taken over the watch shortly after midnight on a warm June 29 in calm seas.
[I][B]Stephen Meyer, chief inspector of the MAIB, said the unrelenting shift patterns were “as close to slavery that we have in the UK”.[/B][/I]
[I][B]He said: "People are working 98 hour weeks, week after week and they do not have a single night’s sleep in that time.[/B][/I]
[I][B]“They never get more than five hours and the cumulative effect is enormous.”[/B][/I]
Mr Meyer said most of the recent accidents where a vessel had gone aground had not cause serious pollution or injury.
"But it is only a matter of time until an unmanned ship travelling three hours across a main shipping channel - like an unguided missile - hits an oil tanker or a passenger ship and we are going to have a catastrophic accident."
The MAIB said recommendations it made five years ago to try and prevent such incidents had been largely ignored.
During that time, it has investigated nine other groundings, where in six of the cases the officer on the watch fell asleep.
Mr Meyer called on the Government to put pressure on the International Maritime Organisation to review the issue of fatigue and manning on board ships as a matter of urgency.
He said the Department of Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency must increase inspections on ships believed to be undermanned to prevent a tragedy in UK waters.
In January 2007, the container ship Napoli grounded off the coast of Devon got into trouble because it was being sailed too fast, was overloaded and had a fundamental design flaw.