Approximately 200 sailors on the USS Curtis Wilbur will wear devices to collect sleep data, which will be analyzed to improve fatigue management and operational readiness.

Summary: The Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) is conducting a study during the RIMPAC 2024 exercise to monitor sleep and fatigue among sailors aboard the USS Curtis Wilbur. Approximately 200 sailors will wear rings and watches that collect biometric data, primarily focusing on sleep. The data will be processed through the Optimized Watchbill Logistics system to help predict and mitigate fatigue risks. This study is part of NHRC’s Command Readiness, Endurance, and Watchstanding program, in partnership with MIT Lincoln Laboratory, aiming to enhance human performance and fatigue management in the Navy.

Key Takeaways

  • Wearable Technology: Approximately 200 sailors on the USS Curtis Wilbur will wear rings and watches to monitor their total sleep time and other biometric data, aiding in identifying individuals at high risk of fatigue.
  • Data Integration and Processing: The collected data will be securely and automatically transferred to the OWL system, which streamlines operational planning and ship activity scheduling, allowing for real-time monitoring and mitigation of operational fatigue risks.
  • Fatigue Management: This study is part of the larger NHRC CREW program, which aims to optimize human performance and fatigue management in surface forces, with continuous improvements and realistic testing conditions during high-tempo naval operations.

Scientists from the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) operational readiness department studying sleep and fatigue performance among sailors and marines have outfitted guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) and its crew to participate in the study while at sea.

Approximately 200 sailors aboard the ship will be wearing devices (rings and watches) to monitor biometric data, primarily their total sleep time. Data from wearable devices can be used to identify individual sailors at high risk of fatigue and to predict fatigue risks across a shipboard department.

Trident Warrior, the experimentation sector of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), is set to run June 27 to Aug 1, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. RIMPAC is a biennial, large-scale, multinational maritime exercise involving 29 nations and more than 25,000 personnel.

NHRC’s CREW Program

This at-sea trial is part of NHRC’s larger Command Readiness, Endurance, and Watchstanding (CREW) program that was established to optimize human performance and fatigue management in the surface forces.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, NHRC’s CREW program technical partner, has customized data flows and data processing from commercial off-the-shelf wearable devices for secure and automatic transfer of sleep and other readiness data to a watchbill management program called Optimized Watchbill Logistics (OWL). Wearable sleep data are collected as personnel pass by data hubs located in common shipboard spaces, like mess areas, and processed into OWL-ready format.

The OWL tool streamlines operational planning workflows and ship activity scheduling and enables real-time monitoring to detect and mitigate operational fatigue risk. Together, CREW and OWL act as a comprehensive solution to monitor and manage fatigue-related risk.

Development and Goals of the CREW System

“The system is in a development cycle that includes iterative testing and refinements that (each time) get us closer to what the envisioned end state of this system will be: an offline, passive, intuitive, wearable device hub system that blends into the background of a ship without requiring extensive manual steps from either research staff or the crew of the ship,” says Rachel Markwald, a sleep specialist and the Naval Health Research Center’s principal investigator for the CREW program, in a release. 

The goal of RIMPAC Trident Warrior 24 is to demonstrate the on-demand fatigue risk monitoring capabilities using the latest system, CREW System Version 2.0.

“Being aboard the Curtis Wilbur for RIMPAC while ships are operating at a high tempo, allows our research to be as realistic as possible,” said Navy lieutenant Matthew Peterson, NHRC research physiologist, in a release. “Each time we go out to demonstrate the latest system, we learn how best we can implement this technology within the dynamic shipboard environment.”

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