A safe means of access – at ALL times


An account of a homemade spreader being used to support an accommodation ladder.


What the reporter told us

Please find attached photos of a lifting spreader that I suspect was made onboard. I was due to sail the MV xxx this morning from port xxx.

The gangway was suspended by a davit with a spreader that appeared to be a made using an onboard appliance. The shackle attaching the wire to the gangway was not in a straight line during the lift, so I requested the gangway be landed and the load taken off the wire before embarking.

I reported to AMSA for follow up but thought you may be interested.

Gangway supported by suspected home-made spreader.

What the Third Party told us

The Operators received the following from the vessel:

Prior to boarding the pilot at xxx as per our SHQEM procedure we have to test all navigational equipment including main engine prior to departure. Whilst the vessel was berthed at the wharf, the gangway had to be pulled away from ships side to about 3 metres from the wharf fender, so the crew had to suspend the gangway from the port side provisions crane in order not to drag and swing the gangway instantly to the ships side, which would have happened using the normal lifting arrangement, which is not an approved type. We had not detached the ships provision spreader after ME testing, leaving the pilot to notice it prior to embarkation.

 Root Cause – Ships provision crane was using a ‘jury rigged’ lifting spreader in conjunction with the normal accommodation ladder winch arrangement.

 Probable effect of the deficiency is to the crew, ship and environment if not rectified, delay to vessel if the pilot refused to board, or AMSA detention due to non-approved pilot boarding arrangement.

 The ship’s purpose in using the crew-made spreader is only for support in emergency cases when we require to lift the gangway instantly without damaging the ships side. However, due to the incident at xxx, we have promised AMSA not to use the spreader anymore since, in their opinion, it is not an approved type”.

 As part of the counter-measures, we have similarly cautioned the ship’s crew against using the crew-made spreader which is not type-approved and told them to always ensure the safety of personnel boarding the ship using the ship’s gangway.


CHIRP Comment

The Maritime Advisory Board, whilst understanding the need to test engines prior to departure, and following the rationale of protecting an accommodation ladder from damage, commented that only certified equipment should be used at all times and then discussed the more generic problem of the use of accommodation ladders at berths. It was noted that “swinging out” an accommodation ladder is not an infrequent event and is often seen at container berths where large fenders protect the face of the berth creating a large gap between the ship and jetty hard standing. This adaptation could place undue stress upon the upper platform swivel, since it is now doing something that it was not designed to do. Brow ladders or clip on ladders as shown below provide a safer alternative to swinging and have the flexibility of placement at a point convenient to vessel and jetty. The design is certainly safer than the other example shown below!! It is incumbent upon a vessel to provide a safe means of access whilst alongside.



Two photos showing a brow or clip-on ladder that can be safely swung out to provide safe access


Safe means of access??