International Maritime Pilots' Association (IMPA) Safety Campaign 2018

April 2019

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pilot ladder

Members’ attention is drawn to the report of the 2018 Safety Campaign undertaken by The International Pilots’ Association (IMPA) which can be found here.

The purpose of this campaign was to determine the level of compliance with requirements for safe pilot transfer arrangements during the year under review. As stated in the report, the most hazardous part of a vessel’s voyage is that in pilotage waters, and it is for this reason that pilots are engaged. For an individual pilot however, the process of embarkation and disembarkation, is the most hazardous part of any act of pilotage. The risks inherent in ascending or descending a pilot ladder cannot be understated, even in benign conditions. As weather conditions become adverse, so those risks increase. Any incident resulting in the loss of life or personal injury of a pilot occurring during such operations as the result of a failure of those on the vessel to adhere to recommended safe practices can give rise to significant P&I liabilities.

It is therefore of the utmost importance to ensure that pilot boarding and disembarkation arrangements comply with SOLAS Regulation V/23 and IMO Resolutions A.1045(27) and A.1108(29) which can be found at the following links:

It can be seen from the IMPA Safety Campaign report that over four thousand data returns were made by IMPA members worldwide on the safety compliance of boarding arrangements, of which 570 were considered non-compliant. In respect of the specific means of transfer there were 332 and 151 instances where the non-compliance related to a pilot ladder, or the combination of a pilot and accommodation ladder respectively. With regard to specific pilot ladder deficiencies there were 192 examples of defects with the steps of the ladder, and 57 instances where the ladder did not lie against the vessel’s hull.

The photographs within the report illustrate self-evident safety deficiencies and all of those were recorded during a two week period of the survey.

In addition the CHIRP (Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme) Maritime Advisory Board has recently published an Insight Article on Pilot Ladders – Error Enforcing Conditions and Deficiencies - which can be found here. This contains some graphic illustrations of extremely dangerous pilot ladder rigging arrangements and also highlights the risk of a Port State Control detention in the event that a pilot reports a vessel for unsafe boarding arrangements.

In order to ensure that pilot boarding and disembarkation operations are conducted with the utmost safety, Members are recommended to distribute the IMPA and CHIRP reports to their fleet. It is also recommended that the IMPA poster depicting the required boarding arrangements for pilots is displayed on individual vessels. The Club’s Loss Prevention poster on Pilot Boarding arrangements may also be of interest in this regard.