Talk:Watch system

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Two-section Traditional Watch?[edit]

Is the two-section traditional watch schedule correctly described in this article? If so, wouldn't that only give about 3.5 hours in which to sleep at any one time? Wouldn't that result in a less-effective fighting force than if the crew worked on some other schedule allowing a longer period of sleep? Or was this (meaning sleep duration; obviously the effectiveness of one's fighting force was a concern) not a concern at the time?

DrDeke 20:33, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

I believe that in practice, if the traditional system was used, sailors on watch but not actively working were allowed to nap on deck. As you suggest, the replacement watch has to be present and ready before the start of their watch, so they never get the nominal full time off of the schedule. I do not have a reference, but I remember reading that the US Navy conducted controlled experiments where volunteers tried a 4 on 4 off schedule and found they could not keep it up for more than a few days. I know this is true from practical experience though, having tried it once. Naive people (as we were) occasionally try this plan, but I think it is very dangerous, because "loss of effectiveness" at sea can easily get someone killed. Eric Newby described watch standing on the Moshulu on his 1938 trip to Australia. On this ship there were normally 3 working watch positions, that had to be awake, the runner, the lookout and the helmsman. These jobs were rotated among watch standers hourly, and it seems the rest of the watch (6 sailors) was often able to nap, called by the runner when they were needed. There were two officers on each watch, so one, I assume, could nap when not needed. In addition, they followed a "Swedish" watch schedule of 4,4,5,6,5, so each watch had 6 hours off every other day. I have followed this schedule a number of times and found it tolerable, as long as I made sure I slept during that (almost) 6 hours off. None of this is a problem when there are 3 watches, which is a much better plan. AJim (talk) 14:33, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Three-section American Submariner Style[edit]

On most US submarines, the watch schedule is 6 hours on, 12 hours off, thus an 18 hour day. This creates a 54 hour work week for two weeks then a 60 hour week every 3rd week. The particular time slots don't have any standard name and each section is just numbered 1—3. Consequently this sets up the day so that there is 6 hours on watch, 6 hours for maintenance, administrative work, entertainment and so forth, then 6 hours for sleep. With the constantly rotating sleep times, it is always dark in crew's berthing (sleeping area) unless general quarters, field day (all hands deep clean the ship), etc, has been called away.-- (talk) 07:40, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Do you have a source? This would make a good addition to the article. US submarines in WWII used a traditional three section 4 on / 8 off watch, but the Navy studied this in 1949 and concluded this was the worst possible schedule for crew effectiveness (Kleitman & Jackson 1950). I assume it was changed some time after that. Rees11 (talk) 00:01, 26 February 2009 (UTC)