Three million euro research project to highlight the causes of seafarer fatigue

A European research initiative has been launched to investigate and tackle the problems posed by seafarer fatigue, one of the leading causes of shipping accidents.

The ?3.78 million initiative known as Project Horizon was inaugurated with a meeting at Warsash Maritime College today.

A 2006 survey of over 1,800 professional seafarers found that nearly half considered fatigue to be a key factor in reducing collision awareness, while one in four watch-keepers (particularly those on longer watches) reported having fallen asleep on watch.

The European Commission-funded project brings together 11 academic institutions and organisations with a broad range of interests from the shipping industry in a 30-month research programme to examine the way in which fatigue affects the cognitive performance of ships’ watch-keepers.

Scientists will make extensive use of bridge, engine and liquid cargo handling simulators in Sweden and the UK to produce real-time, realistic scenarios in which the impact of fatigue on decision-making and performance can be assessed.

The project seeks to improve safety at sea by developing a fatigue management toolkit for the industry, as well as recommendations for improving work patterns at sea.

Sixty deck and engineer officers will be taking part – with their performance being measured as they undertake typical watch-keeping duties on simulators over a succession of 7-day periods.

Experts will use a variety of scientific methods to measure the fatigue levels experienced by the officers and any resulting degradation in performance during a wide range of regular onboard operating conditions.

The project brings together:

Southampton Solent University
Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
Stockholm University
Bureau Veritas Marine Division
European Community Shipowners’ Associations
European Transport Workers’ Federation
European Harbour Masters’ Committee
International Association of Independent Tanker Owners
Standard P&I Club
UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch
UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency