Saturday, December 30, 2017

US Navy Puts Sailors on New Circadian Schedules

       After two collisions in the last year, the US Navy had a 24 hour stand down from all missions.  An assessment of the situation was taken, and a new alert status was imposed temporarily to deal with the fall out.  17 sailors and crew members died in the two wrecks, one involving the USS John McCain, a destroyer named for the father/son admirals who were grandfather and father of the the current Senator from Arizona, John McCain.
      An investigation revealed that the sailors throughout the 7th Fleet, the largest in the US Navy, are under trained and over worked.  The fleet has openings that far exceed normal limits.  Recruiting has been a problem in a work force that is essentially fully employed.  An analyst who has studied  sleep habits aboard deployed ships has noted that crew members lack sufficient sleep, more than any other military force.  Oft times they cannot log more than 5 hours of decent rest.  Their schedules are such that they more often than not sleep at different times, meaning the crew member has no regular circadian rythyms, which are necessary for restful sleep and good mental alertness.  Both collisions occurred in busy straits in East Asia.
     Starting this week, all crew members will be given new schedules that will allow sufficient time for 8 hours of continuous rest.
     This is a sad statement of results of Defense Department manpower budgets and an overall lack of concern for staffing needs in the overworked Navy.  Maybe the new President will address these issues through his Secretary of Defense Mattis.  Maybe not.

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