Causes of extreme fatigue on ship and ways to overcome it


In this world of excessive work load and inconceivable dead lines, the stress levels related to work have become totally unperceivable. Prolonged stress leads to mental and physical fatigue, seizing vitality and vigor from the body. When a person is on shore, the ways to fight stress can be numerous but once at sea, the resources to fight the same reduces drastically and hence stress management is a must.

Its a totally different environment on ship, where factors resulting to stress are more and the ways to tackle them are less. Also,maximum of the marine accidents are a product of human errors and thus it is imperative to kill the root cause that leads to such devastation. A report says that more than 51% of marine accidents and near misses are due to human error and the main reason of it is stress.So what could be the possible ways to fight the inevitable stress on board a ship. Read on to find out the causes of extreme fatigue on board ships, though this applies equally to related occupations such as deep sea diving, oil rigs and platforms.


Fatigue leads to reduction in productivity and presence of mind, causing fatal accidents and injuries. So how can one find out if fatigue is bothering the person. It is better to read the early signs by identifying the following symptoms.

  • Fatigue leads to frequent yawning and sleepiness, forcing the person to doze off.
  • Loss of concentration
  • Lack of interest in work
  • Drowsy and heavy reddish eyes
  • Lack of synchronization between body and mind
  • Diminishing Cognitive ability
  • Unable to grasp, act and respond.


The main reasons for fatigue are as follows:

  • Excessive stress due to prolonged working hours and lack of sleep
  • Disturbed sleep, mainly due to emergencies or health disorders
  • Not able to attend personal problems back as home
  • Home sick
  • Excessive noise levels and high temperature causing physical strain. This is more significant in case of engineers working in ship’s engine room
  • Poor accommodation condition and improper food
  • Elongation of sailing contract
  • Adverse weather condition leading to seasickness
  • High job demand and consecutive long working days

Ways To Fight Fatigue

The ways to fight stress solely depends on the person who is affected by the same. The foremost way to avoid stress is to choose the right shipping company by avoiding companies with old fleets( Mainly more than 15 years). This is because old ships have machinery in dilapidated conditions and thus often experience emergency conditions, due to which the mariners have to work for prolonged hours, resulting in stress and fatigue. Also, older ships generally have poor living condition which adds to the ordeals.

Small shipping companies should be avoided as they try to maximize the profits by refraining from buying new ships and by reducing the number of crew members. The old and poorly maintained ships are the ones that have been the reason for great marine disasters.

One more way of avoiding fatigue by eradicating the root cause is to keep a simple and active lifestyle by avoiding alcohol and smoking and ritually doing physical and mental exercises such as yoga and meditation.


Hancock, P.A. & Szalma, J.L. (2008) Performance Under Stress. London: Ashgate Publishing.