An analysis of the effectiveness of a new watchstanding schedule for U.S. submariners
Osborn, Christopher M.
Miller, Nita Lewis
Crowson, J. Jeffrey
Whitaker, Lyn R.
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This study compares an experimental watchstanding schedule derived at Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory (NSMRL) with the schedule currently used onboard the submarine USS HENRY M. JACKSON (SSBN 730 GOLD). It analyzes subjective and objective data to determine if the new schedule is compatible in an operational submarine environment. This study reviews sleep and fatigue literature to emphasize important concepts needed to make schedule comparisons. Results from this study indicate a need exists among the U.S. submarine force to employ an operational schedule which provides more sleep and which is in better alignment with human circadian rhythms, thus improving cognitive effectiveness. One of the experimental schedules tested in this study yielded results similar to those of the existing submarine watchstanding schedule. This experimental schedule employed a validated model of human performance and fatigue to assess individual cognitive effectiveness. However, the results also indicate that the existing schedule is better suited in its accommodation of operational scheduling constraints which, in turn, allow watchstanders to receive more sleep. Recommendations address the need for the U.S. submarine force to continue to pursue a watchstanding schedule that provides better sleep while still accommodating operational constraints. Recommendations also address improvements in experiment implementation which can be integrated into future studies.
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