Watch Rotation System

Created by Captain Cassius Whittemore on Thu Sep 28th, 2017 @ 2:02am


A watch system, watch schedule, or watch bill is a method of assigning regular periods of watchkeeping duty aboard starships, starbases, and planetary installations. Watch systems allow personnel to operate twenty-four hours a day while also allowing individuals adequate time for rest and other duties.

Terms & Definitions

Although the form and duration of individual watches may vary between postings, the overall use of watch systems is standard throughout the Federation Starfleet. Personnel are divided into rotating sections which are then assigned shifts for watch-standing, work, personal time, and protected sleep.

  • Watch-standing (sometimes referred to as watchkeeping) is when personnel are assigned to specific roles in various duties and locations. These duty assignments are constantly active as they are considered essential to the safety of the vessel or installation. They also allow personnel to respond quickly to emergencies as well as to other unexpected situations.
  • Work is when personnel are assigned to regular duties and responsibilities not directly related to watch-standing. These duty assignments are typically ongoing, giving individuals greater flexibility where and how they engage in their work. They may include ongoing projects, training, and other responsibilities as directed by their supervisor.
  • Personal time is when personnel are given opportunity to pursue personal interests and responsibilities not related to work or watch-standing. These non-duty activities are typically unstructured, meaning they are up to the discretion of the individual. They may include recreational time, personal enrichment, time spent with friends and family, as well as other personal activities.
  • Protected sleep is when personnel are given at least eight contiguous hours to be used for rest and sleep. This is done to promote the health and safety of the crew. As such, every effort is made to ensure this time is not interrupted except for in the most urgent of circumstances (i.e. emergency situations).
Watch Schedule

The USS Thames utilizes what is known as a 8/16 circadian watch rotation. What this means is that assignments and shifts are scheduled to align with the naturally-occurring biological rhythms of most species.

Meal service is offered in all mess halls every six hours. Each meal begins thirty minutes before the shift-change and lasts for an hour. This gives those going on duty as well those coming off the chance to have a fresh meal.

In addition to individual watches and duty assignments, the watch rotation also governs several portions of the Thames’ overall daily routine. Meetings, briefings, inspections, and trainings are limited to the time between 0900 hours and 1900 hours out of respect for the protected sleep of personnel.

8/16 Circadian Watch Rotation


Questions, comments, and concerns are always welcomed and should be directed to a member of the command staff via private message or email.

Modification and enforcement of this policy is at the discretion of the commanding officer.

See Also
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Watch Schedule Image: adapted from US Navy
Used with permission.

Updated: 02/15/2018

Categories: USS Thames Reference