In an exclusive interview with SAFETY4SEA, Capt. John Pearn, Vice President of IMPA, highlights that pilot transfer operations continue to be a challenging area for pilots. In this context, IMPA conducts annually related safety survey which reflects what industry already knows; that pilots continue to be seriously injured and killed every year.
apt Pearn highlights that pilotage assists ships during the most hazardous part of their voyage and the very least that the pilot should expect is a boarding arrangement that is safe to use. Consequently, it is important industry to be aware that such accidents can cause serious injuries or fatalities and put more effort into changing its safety culture.
SAFETY4SEA: What are the challenges with regards to marine pilotage and what are the key factors for enhanced safety?
Capt. John Pearn: Putting aside the global Coronavirus pandemic, the greatest ongoing concern for pilots continues to be pilot transfer operations.
S4S: What are you doing to raise awareness across industry stakeholders?
Capt. J.P.: At an international level IMPA conducts its annual pilot ladder safety campaign. It also engages with relevant NGO stakeholders to raise awareness of the issues. At a national level many pilotage organisations engage directly with their flag and port state regulators and with Class and shipping companies. On a local and individual basis many pilots are now using social media to share experiences as well as warning their colleagues about non-compliant vessels and poor practices. There is a growing reluctance amongst pilots to tolerate these deficiencies, supported by their ports, a growing number of pilots are refusing to serve vessels that do not comply.
S4S: Tell us a few words about IMPA Safety Campaign. What is the aim of this annual survey? Where is it going to focus on this year?
Capt. J.P.: The aim of the annual IMPA pilot ladder survey is to inform the key stakeholders at IMO of the ongoing rate of compliance/non-compliance with SOLAS, with regards pilot ladders and pilot boarding arrangements. During the survey period IMPA invites all its members to submit a report for every vessel they board, regardless of whether the arrangement is compliant or not. These reports are then collated and presented in an annual report to IMO. The same format is repeated every year to allow a ready comparison between successive surveys.
S4S: Have previous IMPA surveys revealed any alarming issues with regards to marine pilotage? What are the lessons learned?
Capt. J.P.: The IMPA survey is pilot ladder and transfer arrangement specific. The report, however, only reflects what pilots already know. The real alarming issue is that their colleagues continue to be seriously injured and killed every year.
S4S: What has been IMPA ‘s experience with respect to industry’s compliance with pilot boarding transfer arrangements?
Capt. J.P.: The surveys have been conducted on an annual basis for many years, frustratingly the levels of non-compliance remain stubbornly consistent.
S4S: How satisfied are you with the results of Concentrated Inspection Campaigns (CIC) on pilot ladders, and what needs to be done further to minimize deficiencies?
Capt. J.P.: IMPA warmly welcomes Concentrated Inspection Campaigns (CIC) from flag states and other NGOs. It demonstrates that within the industry the issue is increasingly recognised and they are prepared to take steps to resolve the problem.
S4S: In your view, has the industry been successful in enhancing its safety performance? What are the lessons learned and what should be the next steps?
Capt. J.P.: Whenever you go on a vessel you are met with a multitude of posters promoting safe practices, such as enhanced PPE etc… Yet still pilot ladders and pilot transfer arrangements continue to be offered in a poor state or incorrectly rigged. Often when a ladder is refused due to its poor state, a compliant ‘spare” ladder is miraculously retrieved for use to avoid delays. There needs to be a sea-change in safety culture towards pilot boarding arrangements.
S4S: If you could change one thing across the industry from your perspective, what this would be and why?
Capt. J.P.: The needs to be a sea-change in safety culture regarding pilot boarding arrangements, recognizing that accidents can cause serious injuries or fatalities. This safety culture needs to be generated on the vessels themselves. The ships crews can only work with the material they are given, so owners need to ensure that the ladders comply with agreed industry standards, SOLAS and ISO 799, and that crews are properly trained in their deployment under the supervision of a responsible officer.
S4S: Do you have any plans/ projects/ initiatives that you would like to share?
Capt. J.P.: Many national pilot organizations have now developed their own apps, which allow pilots to report deficiencies. The reports are simultaneously sent to the national pilot organization, port authorities and port state control. This information can be readily shared with other pilotage organizations. Do not be surprised to find that if you have a deficient ladder for that deficiency to be relayed to the port state control inspector and to the pilots at your next port, before you arrive.
S4S: What is your key message to industry stakeholders to enhance pilotage safety?
Capt. J.P.: Nobody should face the risk of serious injury or loss of life when going to work. Pilotage services are provided around the world to promote the safety of shipping, and assist the ships during the most hazardous part of their voyage. The very least that the pilot should expect is a boarding arrangement that is safe to use.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.