This year’s IMPA Safety Campaign on pilot ladders highlights that still a lot of work is required as the requirements of SOLAS regulation V/23 (Pilot transfer arrangements), its associated IMO Assembly resolutions, and the ISO 799 series standards are considered as the minimum requirement and not an aspirational target, IMPA stressed.
very year, the International Maritime Pilots’ Association publishes the results of its annual IMPA Safety Campaign. Ports and pilotage providers are requesting information from ships on the age and certification of their pilot ladder. IMPA is aware of reports of pilots refusing to board ships due to non-compliance with SOLAS regulations and non-conformities with ISO standards. ”The courage shown by pilots and ports in rejecting ships with non-compliant pilot transfer arrangements is to be admired.” IMPA said, adding that they expect more pilots and ports to adopt this approach if the
persistence in pilot ladder defects continues.
All pilot ladder issues can be fixed easily and cheaply. IMPA welcomes the proactive approach of some ship owners to pilot transfer safety. Policies
and procedures relating to the modification of trap-door arrangements, and giving pilot ladders a finite service life are actions which IMPA applauds.
Treating pilot ladders as safety critical consumable items with a finite service life is a necessary step forward. It is in the interests of maritime pilots and shipboard personnel to make the maintenance of pilot transfer arrangements as simple as possible. Pilots report that the crews they interact with say consistently they are busy people with conflicting priorities and time pressure. Repairing pilot ladders as a matter of routine onboard ships is now a traditional aspect of seamanship that really should be considered a last resort. Replacement is the most effective form of maintenance.
IMPA advises shipowners to support their personnel by implementing time-based replacement of pilot ladders and associated equipment. Company procedures contained in approved safety management systems should be clear and effective, at least reflect the latest IS0 799 series standards, and emphasise timely replacement. Far better to replace safety critical equipment too early than a minute too late.
“Replace them early, replace them often” is the best policy anybody involved in ship management can have.
IMPA further notes a rise in the number of marine pilots responding to social media posts normalising the rejection of non-compliant arrangements. There was unequivocal support at IMO in November 2022 for China’s proposal to amend SOLAS regulation V/23.
To us, this indicates the days of industry relying on the can-do attitude of marine pilots and their willingness to overlook non-compliant transfer arrangements are numbered. IMPA looks forward to participation in the IMO’s work in 2023 and we hope to make significant progress with amendments to SOLAS regulation V/23 to fully support the provision of safer pilot transfer arrangements.
It is worth mentioning the recent USCG Safety Alert that highlights the importance of verifying the correct arrangement of handholds in embarkation gate arrangements for pilot ladders.