In line with growing concern by local pilot associations on unsafe boarding arrangements, the Belgium pilot association issued a notice to incoming vessels to remind them to follow the requirements regarding pilot transfer arrangements.
Recent surveys conducted by IMPA (International Maritime Pilot Association), as well as a Rotterdam survey on the way pilot boarding arrangements are secured, show that on average 18-20% of pilot boarding arrangements are non-compliant under rules in SOLAS Ch. V reg 23 and IMO A.1045.
The call also follows recent action by pilot associations in UK, US and India, in protest of boarding arrangements that are considered non-compliant.
We strongly recommend all vessels to check whether their pilot transfer arrangements (PTA’s) are compliant according to the regulations as mentioned above. At the Pilot Stations a question might be asked regarding compliance of the arrangement,
…the note reads.
The note stresses that all arrangements used for pilot transfer shall efficiently fulfill their purpose of enabling pilots to embark and disembark safely (SOLAS ch.V reg 23, part of rule2.1). The rigging of the pilot transfer arrangements and the embarkation of a pilot shall be supervised by a responsible officer having means of communication with the navigation bridge who shall also arrange for the escort of the pilot by a safe route to and from the navigation bridge (SOLAS ch.V reg 23, part of rule 2.2).
Types of arrangements
1.Single pilot ladder
The single pilot ladder shall be rigged in accordance with SOLAS requirements and IMO recommendations mentioned above. All pilot ladders shall be secured to strong points on deck by means of ropes/strops having the same strength as the pilot ladder side ropes. Only certified (MED/SOLAS or ISO799-1/2019) pilot ladders are allowed. Use of deck tongues, brackets, steel bars or spreaders to secure a pilot ladder are strictly prohibited. Should the age of the ladder be over 30 months, a strength test report shall be present in accordance with ISO799-1/2019.
A combination shall be rigged in accordance with SOLAS requirements and IMO regulations. Pilot ladders coming of a pilot ladder winch reel shall be secured at nominally 91,5cm from the deck edge. The winch shall be switched off, on the brake as well as mechanically secured.
Frequent errors observed at combinations:
- Platform not horizontal
- Stanchions at platform missing
- Platform not secured against ship’s hull
- Ladder not secured against ship’s hull 1,5m above platform
- Ladder does not run 2 m past the platform
- Retrieval line rigged wrong
- Platform not at required height
- Gangway too steep (maximum angle 45 degrees)
- Platform in front of the ladder
- Distance from platform to ladder exceeds 0,1-0,2m
3.Embarkation platform (a.k.a.) trapdoor
SOLAS chapter V reg. 23 rule 126.96.36.199 states: In case of a combination arrangement using an accommodation ladder with a trapdoor in the bottom platform (i.e. embarkation platform), the pilot ladder and manropes shall be rigged trough the trapdoor extending above the platform to the height of the handrail.
Finally, when a retrieval line is rigged, it shall be rigged at or above the bottom spreader and lead forward to prevent possible snagging at the pilot launch.
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