Peter Gartsjö from PG Marine continues to look into how conditions at sea can be made more comfortable.
In 1976 on my first ship, Laponia, there were separate dining rooms for the master/chief engineer (saloon), officers, petty officers, mess personnel and finally crew. Some years earlier there had even been separate messes for deck officers and engineers.
As anyone can see, it was quite a large crew to manage a ship and compared to today’s ships a huge social event where we always found someone with similar interests to spend our free time with. There were a lot of common activities during spare time, frequent barbeques, sports events ashore and onboard, cards, dice games, etc.
Today we might not find so many collegues that we want to spend free time with for various reasons or even someone free to play a game or even watch a film with.
In 1976 the only social connection with home was an ordinary letter that once in a while managed to connect to the ship. And God forbid if the master called to tell you someone wanted to speak to you over the wireless – this meant someone had passed away at home.
Today we have minimal crew, a crew that have smartphones, Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat, etc. Today’s generation needs to communicate with family and social networks.
When I saw my first newbuilding specification in 1997 from the start we focused on technical issues – how to make the tanker more efficient, something that was quite easy as the specification was normally just one standard with absolute minimums to meet the various rules and regulations, a bit like being offered a Toyota Corolla instead of a Lexus as it had four wheels, doors and what was necessary to make it drive.
The second time was in 2002 and now the computer had really gone wild – cabins were mixed onto the same level as the AC room, laundry (just one common one), entry to deck and engine room, the next level was again cabins, offices and the mess so one wondered how crew there would ever sleep in port or at sea. As I then had the possibility to redraw the accommodation completely I jumped at the chance.
For an accommodation there are two ‘fixed; anchor points – engine room and deck access – the latter quite simple, but the engine room entry a bit trickier but even this can be adjusted.
Then the question: What is most the most important function of the accommodation block? I would say sleep, eat, socialise and then work.
If crew get their rest they can do the others – if it’s only work there will hardly be a chance for anything else
So start by designing the accommodation where the cabins are separated one deck above the deck entrances so only crew can enter and never any unauthorised personnel or visitors.
The minimum standard in a cabin must be a shower and toilet, writing table with a small refrigerator, access to LAN, a sofa (long enough for lying down), a bed and a small coffee table. Ensure that the sofa and bed have a 90 degree off set. Now we have set the game plan.
Next is cleaning these quarters. Today the hardest working person on a ship is the mess man closely followed by the cock – and no incentive what so ever is done to support them.
First of all – why is there not a cleaning cubicle on each deck where there is a space for all required cleaning utensils including a vacuum cleaner? Now the mess man has to carry this up and down relentlessly. Why is there not a laundry room on each deck with two or three smaller washing machines and a drier? Now all is down to one common laundry with one 25 kg machine and possibly one 12 kg machine to be used for all linen, dirty overalls and private clothing and uniforms.
And those of us that have sailed have many times seen the biggest machine occupied by a pair of socks and an underwear with too much washing powder, wasting precious freshwater.
It’s important to note that there are very limited locations for the access down to the engine room. Once this has been set there are very few restrictions to move the other layout around.
For the first part of this in-depth feature, click here.