Captains suffer from fatigue and stress more than their crews; fatigue can result in long term physical and mental health issues, motivation decreases over the length of the voyage and that night watch keepers get significantly less total sleep than others on board were some of the key findings from MARTHA – the international research study into short term sleepiness and long term fatigue of seafarers.
InterManager, together with The Warsash Maritime Academy, has presented the findings of its fatigue study, Project MARTHA, to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The report highlights growing levels of fatigue, particularly among Masters and Watch Keepers, and noted that motivation was a major factor in fatigue experienced by seafarers.
Capt Kuba Szymanski, Secretary-General of InterManager urged the maritime industry to take notice of the findings as the industry recruits aspiring seafarers.
Findings of the report include:
Fatigue’s effect on Masters
A Master’s place on a ship is central to its performance, a claim which many would agree with. The project confirmed this and found a number of reasons for how a Master’s role differed from that of other crew members, including that Masters:
- Have more weekly work hours
- Feel that work in port is less demanding than work at sea
- Are far more fatigued at the end of a contract
- Are slightly more overweight compared to others onboard
- Suffer from mental fatigue, compared to physical fatigue suffered by other seafarers
Fatigue’s effect on performance
The performance of seafarers onboard is paramount to a vessel’s operation and efficiency. The study found:
- During interviews, seafarers pointed out that not being relieved on time was having an effect on motivation
- 48.6% of participants felt stress was higher at the end of a voyage
- Sleepiness levels vary little during the voyage, suggesting there are opportunities for recovery while onboard
Fatigue and the cultural perspective
The cultural differences Project MARTHA sought to examine threw up some interesting results and a clear divides between European and Chinese seafarers were found:
- European seafarers worked fewer hours than their Chinese colleagues
- Chinese seafarers on dry bulk carriers worked an average of 15.11 hours a day compared to European seafarers who worked an average 10.23 hours a day
- There is evidence of higher levels of fatigue and stress in Chinese seafarers, rather than European seafarers
Click on below image to download full report.