Fatigue at sea and related issues, such as stress and work overload, are highly topical and significant issues currently. Ships’ crews are under increasing pressure from competitive voyage schedules, as a result of the economic downturn, and have to handle their tasks with fewer crew members. Evidence from the accident record and earlier research both point to the serious impact that fatigue may have on the safety and welfare of seafarers.
One of the outcomes of the previous research Project HORIZON has been the production of a prototype fatigue prediction model for use in shipping operations. This prototype, called MARTHA, is based on a theoretical model of fatigue, and uses the results of many years of research effort from other industries to produce algorithms, which predict the levels of sleepiness of watch keepers. Such models may be used within a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS).
One of the aims of the project is to evaluate these systems in practice at sea. In accordance with a main focus of The TK Foundation, the impact of the project will be to benefit the safety and welfare of individual seafarers across the world, the efficiency of international shipping companies in the management of fatigue, and the societal benefit of increasing the safety of the marine transport system.
The project will explore the requirements for fatigue risk mitigation on board vessels in Europe and China, through studies of the longer-term psycho-social issues affecting the fatigue of crews at sea, and cultural differences in interpretation of the regulatory framework on hours of work and rest.
Individual seafarers and shipping companies will be invited to participate in surveys and interviews, and in actual measurement of fatigue at sea over long periods of up to six months. The international ship management association, InterManager, will support the academics in seeking volunteers to participate in the project.
Southampton Solent University will lead a consortium of research institutions, including the Stress Research Institute in Stockholm, the Centre for Maritime Health and Society of Esbjerg, Denmark, the University of Southampton and the Dalian Maritime University in China.
Economy and time schedule
The project will run for 3 years with $1.5 million of funding support from The TK Foundation.
Professor Mike Barnett, Warsash Maritime Academy, Solent University, Southampton
Associate Professor Claire Pekcan, Warsash Maritime Academy, Solent University, Southampton
Dr David Gatfield, Warsash Maritime Academy, Solent University, Southampton
Associate Professor Andrew Doig, Warsash Maritime Academy, Solent University, Southampton
Professor Ajit Shenoi, Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute, University of Southampton
Professor Torbjörn Åkerstedt, Stress Research Institute, University of Stockholm
Professor Göran Kecklund, Stress Research Institute, University of Stockholm
Researcher Wessel van Leuven, Stress Research Institute, University of Stockholm
Researcher Dr. Zhiwei Zhao, Dalian Maritime University and Centre of Maritime Health and Safety, SDU
Professor Zhengjiang Liu, Dalian Maritime University
Captain Kuba Szymanski, InterManager
Ass. Professor Jørgen Riis Jepsen, Centre of Maritime Health and Safety, SDU
The final report
You can download and read the full report by clicking here: Project MARTHA - The Final Report. The report highlights growing levels of both physical and mental fatigue in seafarers, particularly amongst Masters and Watch Keepers. Results also indicate that as voyage length increases, fatigue and stress increase and motivation decreases. This has not only safety implications on board due to poorer performance, but also long-term physical and mental health effects on the seafarer.