Two short reports from Pilots outlining difficulties in making a timely entrance to the wheelhouse, and in disembarking following a pilotage.
What the Reporter told us (1):
When boarding the vessel there was no “responsible officer” at the ladder – a cadet with a radio was in attendance along with crew members. As I was boarding in heavy swells, (3-6 metres), I had to call up to the cadet and ask him to pass a course alteration to the bridge. Due to his apparent inexperience, he didn’t immediately grasp what was required.
Once on board, there was a significant delay getting access to the elevator as it appeared to be held up on another deck. This added a few minutes delay in getting to the bridge. I suggested using the stairs, but the cadet appeared reluctant to do this. Due to the long time it took to get to the bridge on this large car carrier, I advised the Master that either the elevator should be held for the pilot, or the stairs used.
Finally, when entering the accommodation, I slipped on a towel that had been laid on the deck at the entry door. Fortunately, I caught myself before falling completely. If people are required to wipe their feet, an appropriate mat should be fitted
The CHIRP Maritime Advisory Board noted that there were a number of significant issues in this report, indicating causal factors that are relevant to the Human Element “Deadly Dozen” as follows:
A lack of radio contact between pilot and bridge. (Communication)
A cadet rather than an officer at the pilot boarding station. (Capability, Teamwork)
The delay with the lift and the slippery towel. (Local practices, Situational awareness, Complacency)
With respect to the radio contact between the pilot and the bridge, CHIRP reinforces the fact that a cadet is not an appropriate person for supervising pilot transfer operations and that the regulations are quite specific as to the supervisory requirements. In addition, the Board commented that a request to alter course made from the pilot boat directly to the bridge may have been the better option.
What the Reporter told us (2):
A Pilot boarded for an outbound passage from the offshore side of the vessel, through a combination ladder arrangement with the lower platform about 2.5 meters above the water. The vessel’s responsible officer was advised that the arrangement was far from compliant with SOLAS Chapter V Rule 23. Once on board, the Pilot requested that the combination arrangement be removed, and to rig the pilot ladder directly as the freeboard was less than nine metres.
By the time the pilot boat arrived alongside for pilot disembarkation, the crew were trying to rig the ladder properly, but for some reason they were unable to do so. This was possibly due to the crew having been involved in unmooring operations, or a lack of education and training regarding pilot transfer, since they seemed to be unaware as to what the Pilot and pilot boat crew were requesting. Finally, because the ship was already leaving the pilot disembarking area and there was other traffic waiting for pilotage, the Pilot decided to disembark through the combination ladder arrangement. The weather conditions were good. The officer on deck was advised that the vessel should revise its procedures.
It is a mistake to expect that just asking to rectify a non-compliant arrangement will result in it being available on time. We should revise our communication procedures prior to pilot boarding, informing vessels clearly that boarding arrangements should meet SOLAS regulations, otherwise this could cause a delay until proper arrangements are provided.
Both the reporter and CHIRP wrote to the vessel’s management, but no response was received.
The CHIRP Maritime Advisory Board commented that vessels should be well aware of the transfer arrangement requirements through SOLAS V 23, and the Pilot Boarding IMPA placard. Additionally, they should be well aware of their freeboard, and thus know exactly what to rig unless specifically requested otherwise. Nevertheless, the reporter highlights the necessity of clear instructions from the port. CHIRP would suggest that “SOLAS compliant” is perhaps not specific enough, and that a written or verbal phrase such as “Pilot ladder on the xx side of the vessel 2.5m above the water – please do not rig a combination ladder unless your freeboard is greater than nine metres” would be a clear request. This may well be of assistance where personnel receiving the request do not have English as their native language.