In the idiosyncratic culture of the Navy’s surface fleet, a strange custom has persisted for years: Working sailors to the bone. On ships at sea, officers and senior enlisted leaders have ignored the fact that a lack of sleep jeopardizes individual performance and unit readiness.

Sailors on ships are often told that Navy life is hard, so suck it up.

Yes, Navy life is hard. But most everyone else in the military believes that getting enough rest is a good thing. The Army and Marine Corps know that troops need sleep to maintain peak performance. In the Air Force and even in Naval aviation, sleep is essential for pilots and air crews. A few years ago, even the Navy submarine community adopted new sleep regulations.

So it was welcome news when the Navy announced recently that the surface fleet would issue new sleep and watch schedule rules.

Too bad it took two catastrophic collisions and the loss of 17 sailors to prompt it.

Medals & Misfires is a new opinion feature from the Military Times editorial staff. Read more here.

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