Generally, the operations are all different as they hide different dangers, concerning the 'product' being transferred.

Britannia notes that the most important points to be careful of are:

  • Approval

Prior to the transfer, one should check with the flag state, classification society and port state to see if they have specific requirements for transfer of personnel in their territorial waters.

  • Equipment

Choosing the right equipment for the transfer is very important and it must also be properly maintained in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions and as part of the ship’s planned maintenance system (PMS).

Crane: If using a ship’s hose-handling or provision crane, it must be upgraded before transferring personnel. Britannia suggests to install the following:

  1. Secondary braking system in case of brake failure;
  2. Manual override in case of power failure;
  3. Safety locking latch on the crane hook.

Moreover, the basket, meaning the platform used for transferring is referred as basket because of its shape.

All baskets must be approved and certified for carrying personnel and should not be used for other purposes on board e.g. as work platforms. The type of basket will depend on how many people and how much equipment needs to be carried, taking into consideration the design of each ship.

The weight must be evenly distributed so that the basket does not tip and tag lines are normally attached to each side to control the basket. The tag lines must not be too long or they may become wrapped around the basket or get caught in other equipment, compromising the stability of the basket.

  • Transfer plan

A plan for the transfer of personnel should be prepared in advance and form part of the ship’s safety management system (SMS). The plan must include a thorough risk assessment of the entire operation and must be approved by the masters of both ships involved and communicated to all personnel involved. The plan should identify all risks and include pre-testing of equipment, clear lines of communication and a contingency plan in case of emergency.

The risk assessment should consider:

  1. Anticipated weather
  2. Movement of both ships
  3. Correct use of personal protection equipment for all involved
  4. Height of lift, clearance of pick up and definition of landing area

In addition, those involved should understand the transfer plan and should feel comfortable with all aspects of the operation. It can be intimidating to transfer from one ship to another and nobody should be forced to do this unless they are satisfied.

  • Training

All personnel involved must be aware of their duties and responsibilities and receive proper training in all aspects of the operation. The crane driver in particular must be experienced and fully familiar with the correct use and abilities of the crane and lifting equipment.

Those using the basket must be familiar with each specific type of basket, how to get on and off and how to secure all loose parts. They must also know what to do in case of an emergency.