A report from a company where a ship’s accommodation ladder submerged when left unattended. Officials trying to board were not impressed.
What the Reporter told us:
A vessel was starboard side alongside in port and had completed loading operations. The crew were busy preparing for a draft survey, cleaning hatch coamings and making other departure preparations. With no other available manpower, the duty AB on gangway watch left his station to attend to ship’s moorings and did not heave the accommodation ladder prior to leaving the site. When the Draft Surveyor tried to board the vessel from the sea side accommodation ladder (port side), he found that it was immersed in the water.
Gangways and accommodation ladders are to be attended/monitored by a watchkeeper at all times. Should the watchkeeper need to attend another job, he should inform the officer of watch and be relieved appropriately. The accommodation ladder should not be left lowered close to the water when unattended. Additional crew should be called if required.
In this case, the AB should have heaved up the accommodation ladder well above water when leaving the site, since no one else was available to help.
The Maritime Advisory Board commented that this was primarily a potential ISPS Code violation as opposed to a safety issue. Apart from any possible mechanical failure, the ladder must have become immersed earlier during the loading and had not been effectively tended. At some point the ladder would have been in a position for anybody to board, without the knowledge of the crew. Many ports are extremely strict, and may issue fines for the poor control of ship’s access. It is also highlighted that salt water immersion may result in accelerated corrosion of the equipment.