More Issues Related to Pilot Boarding (1)

More Issues Related to Pilot Boarding (1)

This report should be read in conjunction with More Issues Related to Pilot Boarding (2)



CHIRP continues to receive plenty of thought-provoking reports related to pilot boarding, and the following two reports are indicative of the problems being faced. In the first report, a new build vessel was not constructed in compliance with SOLAS, and in the second the pilot ladder was simply dangerous.


What the Reporter told us (1)

The attached picture is of a new build container ship 333m x 48m, constructed at a shipyard in the Far East. She arrived in Port “A” fully loaded, but when she sailed in light condition the pilot could not disembark because of the cut-away at the quarter. In light condition, the last meter of the ladder was not flush with the side of the hull and the pilot boat would have been forced to operate under the counter. The vessel was requested to ballast the ship down to enable the pilot to disembark safely.

For a new build vessel, this is obviously a design issue and CHIRP is requested to contact ship managers, the shipyard of build, and the vessel’s Classification Society for comment.


The pilot door not lying within the parallel mid-body in light condition.


What the Third Party told us (1)

CHIRP wrote to the DPA of the company in question, and also to the General Manager of the shipyard. Approaches to the local office of the vessel’s Classification Society received no response, and the shipyard declined to reply. The Company, however, responded with a thorough appraisal as follows;

This is the first of a group of 5 new built vessels under our management. The fifth and final vessel will be delivered to us within the next few weeks. The current pilot boarding arrangement is definitely a design failure that was not recognized before and during the building phase. We only became aware that at certain loading conditions the lower part of the pilot ladder would be left aft of the parallel body, imposing obvious hazards, after we took delivery of the vessel.

It goes without saying that, following a risk assessment and having also consulted the Classification Society and the designers, we took immediate measures to remedy this shortcoming. For the last vessel to be delivered, we altered the design and effected immediate structural modifications. For the four vessels already delivered to us and currently in service, we will alter the boarding arrangement to a combination ladder, using the accommodation ladder and a suitable pilot ladder, so that it will comply with SOLAS Regulation V/23 and IMO Resolution A.1045(27) requirements.

To resolve the issue we discussed possible alternatives with the shipbuilder and agreed to modify the vessels by adding a secondary means for pilot boarding. This involves installation of an additional pilot ladder to be used in conjunction with the existing accommodation ladder. The main features of the modification are;

  • The secondary means of pilot transfer shall be used in case of draughts lighter than 11.609 metres. For drafts deeper than 11.609 metres, the existing primary pilot ladder with pilot door will be used, which is approved by the International Marine Pilots Association, (IMPA), and the Panama Canal Authorities;
  • The additional pilot ladder will be fitted in way of Frame 81+600, by means of suitable eye plates (not a reel). This is within the parallel mid-body of the ship and within the midship half-length of the ship;
  • The additional pilot ladder will be secured to the ship’s hull by means of Class-approved securing fittings, (magnetic and detachable type), and all steps shall rest firmly against the ship’s side;
  • The additional pilot ladder shall be transported from its stowage position and shall be launched by means of suitable davits and messenger ropes; and
  • The modification described above will be implemented on the last sister vessel before her departure from the building yard, while the previous sister vessels have already been, or will be, supplied with the required equipment and materials that will enable the crew onboard to carry out and complete the modification work.

Our next sister vessel to call at Port A, also on her maiden voyage, will be the xxx. Since this will be her first port, we have arranged for the vessel to arrive at the pilot embarkation point with a draft such that the existing pilot ladder will be safely resting against the side. At her next port, the pilot embarkation point will be changed. The vessel’s Classification Society will be called in to verify, document and approve the new arrangement.

CHIRP Comment

The Maritime Advisory Board discussed the excellent response from the shipping company, commenting that they instructed the shipyard building their new ships to change the design and thereby remove the design fault once it was discovered.

A comment was made on the potential problems that can be caused by ballast water management and the ship’s crew trying to minimise the changing of ballast at sea, sailing with minimum ballast on a light draft and the possible impact on the positioning of the pilot access points.

It was also mentioned that this report highlights failings within the actual design and approval Quality Assurance process by the yard, Class and Flag State. In this respect, the International Marine Pilots Association, (IMPA), gives Guidance For Naval Architects which is a useful resource to help ensure that this type of incident does not occur.

What the reporter told us (2)

Upon boarding a vessel to pilot her to the berth, the following defects on the pilot ladder arrangement were noted;

  • The man ropes had eye splices in the lower ends.
  • The lower spreader of the pilot ladder was bowed.
  • Several steps were loose.

It was additionally noted that the command of English on the bridge of this vessel was very poor, so effectively describing the problems that had been noted was extremely difficult.

CHIRP Comment

Having discussed this report the Maritime Advisory Board agreed that the description of the ladder made it extremely hazardous and that it did not comply with SOLAS V regulation 23, a section of which is shown below.

  2. General

2.1 All arrangements used for pilot transfer shall efficiently fulfil their purpose of enabling pilots to embark and disembark safely. The appliances shall be kept clean, properly maintained and stowed and shall be regularly inspected to ensure that they are safe to use. They shall be used solely for the embarkation and disembarkation of personnel.
2.2 The rigging of the pilot transfer arrangements and the embarkation of a pilot shall be supervised by a responsible officer having means of communication with the navigation bridge who shall also arrange for the escort of the pilot by a safe route to and from the navigation bridge. Personnel engaged in rigging and operating any mechanical equipment shall be instructed in the safe procedures to be adopted and the equipment shall be tested prior to use.

In addition, the Board commented that from the description given, the man ropes would appear to have been rigged upside down. If so, this raises the question of who is checking the safe rigging of the pilot ladder before use? The regulations are clear, and any contravention simply endangers life.

It should be noted that all references in these two reports, SOLAS V Regulation 23, IMO Resolution A.1045(27), Guidance For Naval Architects, and IMPA Boarding Arrangements are available on the CHIRP Maritime website on the Publications page.

It is also appropriate to remind readers that such contraventions should be reported as soon as possible to Port State inspectors to enable appropriate action to be taken. The United Kingdom Marine Pilots Association, (UKMPA), have a facility on their web site to report non-compliance. This may be adapted for use by anyone.


Report Ends