201965 Dangerous pilot ladder arrangement

02 Oct 2019 MARS 2019

A pilot was disembarking a vessel underway, along with three other persons. Each of the three others descended the pilot ladder in turn, followed by the pilot. No one except the pilot was wearing a lifejacket. On descending, the pilot noticed that the pilot ladder combination setup was irregular and dangerous. The gangway was overlapping the pilot ladder and the platform was not horizontal, making it difficult to cross over. One crew member kept the pilot ladder ropes away from the gangway to provide better access onto the pilot ladder. 

As the pilot stepped onto and descended the pilot ladder he slipped several times. He noticed that one of the pilot ladder ropes was lower than the other and the treads were inclined by at least 30°. Aborting the disembarkation would have been even more dangerous so he decided to continue. After everyone was safely on the pilot boat the luggage of the three persons had to be lowered. The total disembarkation took 31 minutes.

Lessons learned

  • Anyone transferring from a vessel to a pilot boat should wear a lifejacket – this is just common sense.
  • Proper installation of the pilot boarding combination arrangement is crucial for safety. It is easy to get it right, but also easy to get it wrong! For guidance, please refer to IMO document MSC.1/Circ.1428
  • Required boarding arrangements for pilots 2012.