In this report, CHIRP received a message about safety measures which were not in line with the SOLAS regulations, concerning a pilot disembarkation procedure.
A metal bar was placed between the ladder side ropes which relied on the whipping on the chocks to hold the weight of the ladder and the pilot. In addition, the side ropes were left on the deck and were unsecured.
I refused to use the arrangement and provided advice to the crew to correctly rig the ladder. There were strong points provided at the head of the side door where the manropes had been secured. In view that there were no other strong points provided, the pilot suggested that this would be a better securing point for the side ropes of the ladder.
The crew informed that they have always been rigging the ladder in this way, and it has always been safe.However, after discussions, the crew re-rigged the ladder so that the weight of the ladder was carried through the side ropes in line with SOLAS regulations.
Following, after the disembarkation, the one reporting to CHIRP immediately informed the vessel via VHF that they have to review their pilot ladder arrangements to ensure compliance with SOLAS regulations.
CHIRP comments that
The crew showed no awareness of the SOLAS requirements for correctly rigging a pilot ladder. There was no officer overseeing the operation, only two AB’s and a security team member who had escorted me from the bridge. This is a common issue on cruise ships where it is very rare for a deck officer to be present for pilot transfer.
Moreover, the reporter stated that the reported the issue to the port and national authorities, resulting to the DPA issuing a Company Circular Letter to the fleet entitled “Pilot Transfer Arrangements – “Safe Rigging of Pilot Ladders”.
The Circular Letter included an annex applicable for certain classes of vessels which illustrated modifications required to be carried out at the next available opportunity to allow those vessels to comply with the requirements of the circular letter and, more importantly, SOLAS and IMO requirements.
Although the company reassured that the member of the security team who escorted the pilot down from the bridge was a responsible one; Yet, CHIRP contradicts that this is controversial since he did not intervene in the discussion between the pilot and the crew as to the correct rigging of the ladder.
The Maritime Advisory Board notes that this major issue shouldn't be overseen; "If some of the company’s vessels required actual modifications to comply with the SOLAS and IMO requirements it begs the question what are the classification societies and flag state authorities doing?" CHIRP adds.
Nevertheless, it is encouraging and positive that once informed, the company gave the matter great attention.
However, the question should be asked why none of the ship’s officers and crew had made the company aware of the ship’s inability to provide a compliant pilot transfer arrangement? Since the pilot transfer arrangements come under SOLAS the whole safety culture on board must be questioned.
Concluding, recently AMSA issued a marine notice focusing on the topic of pilot transfer arrangements, reminding seafarers that it is crucial to provide safe pilot transfer arrangements in favour of seafarers' safety and prevention of accidents.