Whenever a pilot or other person embarks or disembarks from a ship by ladder, they entrust their safety to the pilot transfer arrangements provided by the ship and the pilot boat crew. AMSA has noted with concern that since November 2017 several pilots’ lives have been placed at risk, in six separate incidents where man ropes have parted, or its securing point has failed.
n addition, AMSA regularly receives reports and complaints about non-compliant pilot transfer arrangements. What is more, IMPA’s annual surveys on pilot ladders stress the need to improve the awareness of pilot ladder safety amongst both crew and owners/managers. In that regard, shipowners, operators, masters and crews are reminded that pilot transfer arrangements, including pilot ladders, must comply with SOLAS Chapter V Regulation 23 (SOLAS V/23).
Keep in mind
- SOLAS, Chapter V, Reg. 23 requires that the pilot ladder be secured to the ship side at a point 1.5 metres above the bottom platform of the accommodation ladder.
- The requirements in SOLAS V/23 are the minimum standards for equipment installed and arrangements for pilot transfers on ships on or after 1 July 2012.
- SOLAS V/23.2.3 also states a pilot ladder shall be certified by the manufacturer and refers to ISO 799:2019 “Ships and marine technology – pilot ladders”.
- Paragraph 10.1 of Part A of the ISM Code requires vessel operators establish procedures to include regular inspections of the pilot transfer arrangement and storage of such equipment when not in use.
- If the ship is equipped with a trapdoor arrangement on the bottom platform, the pilot ladder along with the man ropes should also be rigged through the trapdoor extending above the platform to the height of the handrails.
6 key areas of attention
IMPA’s annual pilot ladder survey for 2021 showed that 13% of pilot transfer arrangements reported by its members were non-compliant with SOLAS regulation V/23. Most of the non-compliances reported were with combination arrangements and pilot ladders.Top shortcomings were:
#1 Pilot ladder not attached 1.5m above accommodation ladder
#2 Ladders not secured to ship side
#3 Lower platform stanchions/rail incorrectly rigged
#4 Poorly rigged retrieval line
#5 Steps not horizontal
#6 Ladder not resting against ship’s hull