Alternative Submarine Watch Systems – Recommendation for a new CF submarine watch schedule


  1. Paul, M.A.
  2. Hursh, S.R.
  3. Miller, J.C.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN)
The summer 2007 at-sea trial to evaluate the CF submarine watch schedule revealed dangerously low levels of modeled cognitive effectiveness among the crew. In response, DRDC Toronto hosted an International Submarine Watch Schedule Symposium (CF, USN, RN, RAN, and RNLN) to review International experience with National watch schedule challenges and to model alternative watch schedules that would be more sparing of crew performance. Three alternative watch schedule systems were modeled (1-in-3 straight eights, 1-in-3 straight fours, and 1-in-2 (8-4-4-8)). These three alternative watch systems were compared to the current 1-in-2 (6-6-6-6) CF submarine watch schedule. Results. The mean modeled cognitive effectiveness for all watches within each system were 96%, 91%, 89% and 66% for the 1-in-3 straight eights, 1-in-3 straight fours, 1-in-2 (8-4-4-8) and the current CF 1-in-2 (6-6-6-6) respectively. While it is evident that the best of these alternative watch schedules is the 1-in-3 straight eights (96% mean effectiveness), it is also evident that only larger submarines with larger crews (nuclear-powered USN and RN ballistic missile submarines and nuclear-powered USN attack submarines) have employed such a watch system. Smaller diesel-powered attack submarines have small crews which makes it impossible for such boats to operate either the 1-in-3 straight eights or the 1-in-3 straight fours. Essentially, small diesel-powered submarines must employ a 1-in-2 watch system (i.e. work 12

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submarine watch schedule;shiftlag;fatigue;cognitive effectiveness
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-TR-2010-001 — Technical Report
Date of publication
01 Jan 2010
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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