Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Tired and undermanned ships’ crews have led to a “worrying number” of merchant ships being involved in collisions or near misses, a marine accident investigation chief said today. Some seafarers were working weeks on end without proper breaks or leave, added Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents Stephen Meyer. Crew members were also falsifying timesheets to prove they were working “only” a 98-hour week, said Mr Meyer in a foreword to the annual report of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB). Mr Meyer said: “There have been a worrying number of merchant ships involved in collisions or near misses. While the details of the accidents may vary, the fundamentals remain depressingly consistent: fatigued crews, due to undermanning; falsified hours of work records; no dedicated lookout on the bridge; and poor situational awareness/anticipation/judgment by officers of the watch – classic symptoms of fatigue.” He went on: “In 2004, MAIB conducted a safety study covering 1,600 accidents over the last 10 years, 66 of which were examined in detail. The results showed conclusively that poor manning levels and fatigue were major causal factors in collisions and groundings. “Our main area of concern is the large number of dry cargo vessels plying the short sea trade with the master and mate as the only bridge watchkeepers onboard. With only two watchkeepers, even if they did nothing but their bridge watches, they would work an 84-hour week. “But with routine paperwork, cargo work, maintenance, entering/leaving harbours, inspections, loading/unloading, passage planning etc., their actual working hours are much longer. “It is an anachronism in the 21st century, that seafarers are falsifying their timesheets to prove that they are working only a 98-hour week. And many of these seafarers work every week, without a break, for between four and nine months before getting leave.” Mr Meyer said his other main cause for concern was the fact that 24 fishing vessels were lost in 2004. He added that the fact that the percentage of the UK fishing fleet lost each year had remained broadly steady for the past 10 years was “disappointing”.
Work Me To Death! As Long As Im At Sea