Sleeping with the Big Boys

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sailors will get more sleep at sea under a directive issued Wednesday by the head of Naval Surface Forces.

Vice. Adm. Tom Rowden has ordered ship captains to establish routines no later than Dec. 20 that will give sailors predictable watch schedules and sleep periods, according to a copy of the directive obtained by Stars and Stripes.

A Naval Postgraduate School study shows that 21 hours without sleep results in impairment equivalent to being legally drunk, Rowden said in the directive.

“You would not operate your car under these conditions; we should not ask our crews to stand watch and operate shipboard systems in a similar mental and physical state,” he said.

Irregular schedules can disrupt sleep patterns and make it hard for people to fall asleep or stay awake, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Some have suggested that tired and overworked sailors may be partly to blame for recent accidents involving Navy ships in the Pacific that killed 17 sailors. A Government Accountability Office report released earlier this month said crew size reductions have left some sailors on ships working more than 100 hours a week, creating safety risks.

The new sleep schedules may not be suitable in some training situations and commanders should use their best judgment, Rowden said.

Littoral combat ships and mine countermeasure and coastal patrol vessels are exempt from the guidance, but Rowden said he expects commanders of those ships to implement them to the best of their abilities.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Cole Breedlove, a fire controlman aboard the Yokosuka, Japan-based USS McCampbell, said rested sailors would mean less chance of accidents.

“You can’t ask something from someone who has been sleep deprived,” he said. “Trying to do that task with no sleep; there is a really high chance that they’re going to do it wrong and something could end up happening that gets somebody injured.”

Petty Officer 3rd Class Asha Byrd, a cook assigned to the USS Fitzgerald, said regular schedules would allow sailors to use their free time more efficiently.

“You get a rhythm,” said Byrd, whose ship was involved in a collision off Japan on June 17 that killed seven sailors. “If I know I’m going to get off work at this time, I can work on [qualifications] or I can work out and then go to sleep … I can have a decent cycle.”

Thanks John B for the article.  There may be some EW’s got hold of this memo a whole lot earlier than last Wednesday…

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1 Response to Sleeping with the Big Boys

  1. bill bartlett says:

    Teddy Thorne! Yeah . Straight-up no nonsense skipper. One of the early “long C” course types.too I think. My first and only “formica frigate” was Waikato in ’67. Ted was the skipper (F11) and Danny Milton the SCO. I’ got summoned by Minnie Pickett (CTO at North Head) who says “pack thy kit thou hast pier head jump to join Waikato in Singers!! Poor old Charlie Cameron was off-loaded onto Taranaki in Freemantle.Couldnt get on with Ted Thorne nor Milton. But that was Charlie. Anyway, after being “schooled up” by Arthur Venus (Waikato Commissioning Chief Yeo) on wot Ted Thorne expected of his yeoman, I was on a Herc bound for Changi via Alice Springs. I ended up having a pretty satisfying year on there Ted was hard but fair skipper, and you knew where you stood with him. For both of us it was our first introduction to working with a “Nuke” Sub. (Warspite) Pretty full on. In later years he retired to a “batch” at Lake Rotoiti here in Rotorua. I used to bump into him occasionally. I think at the time he had something to do with the NZ Fire Service. I had the pleasure of having him by my side during my MBE Investiture at Govt House in 1981. Missus and I moved down to Rotorua in 2010 but never saw Ted. Think he may have shifted back to Auckland. Anyway..Quite sad when he passed away. R.I.P Ted

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