WASHINGTON — Senior Navy leaders announced that sailors would no longer be forced to work 100 hours per week, and instead would work at least 168 per week, sources confirmed today.
The change came in the wake of an admonition from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who warned that the practice was unsustainable.
“We took a comprehensive look at the impact that 100 hours per week is having on our sailors,” said Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations. “And what we learned is that we need to progress towards a more realistic 168-hour work week.”
The support for the change came from a working group comprised of career staff officers and high-ranking civilians. The group was chaired by Jeff Hudson, a civilian (GS36) who dropped out of the Naval Academy after his sophomore year to pursue a degree in philosophy.
“The big thing we’re seeing with all these boating accidents is too much downtime,” said Hudson, referring to the collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain. “We need to make a conscious effort to keep our soldiers maximally engaged.”
To help sailors meet their 168-hour weekly quota, leaders have stood up new underway watch positions including passageway watch, tampon flushing watch, and watch watch, where a junior enlisted member stares at the CO’s Rolex for five hours at a time.
Additionally, a mandate was issued fleet-wide to “have the maximum amount of personnel on the bridge at all times.” On destroyers such as the John S. McCain, for example, the recommended amount is 76 people while underway in open ocean, officials said.
Since there are not enough bridge watch positions to keep this many people occupied, many ships have implemented a three-to-one watchstander watcher to watchstander ratio.
The Navy is also moving away from traditional sleep practices and implementing “active rest periods.” Sailors will stand in vertical energy chambers equipped with IVs of Monster for enlisted personnel, and organic cold brew coffee for officers.
While in the chambers, sailors will listen to mandated training topics such as fax machine casualty repair and fatigue awareness training.
“We’re excited about the innovative techniques we’re implementing,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano. “Streamlined resting evolutions, less downtime, more mandated training, and more watch. That’s the new Navy way.”