Pilot ladders – Don’t do this!


CHIRP has received several reports including pictures showing bad practice related to pilot ladders. Some of these are highlighted:

  • Incorrect pilot ladder rigging (See picture 1).
  • Pilot ladder bottom rubber steps – chock missing. Steps at uneven gaps and angled. The manropes have been fitted with monkey’s fists at the ends, and the side-ropes are not continuous as the regulations require – they do not pass under the steps but terminate lashed together (See picture 2).
  • Rope ladder secured to ship’s side by only one magnet which was loose and located more than 2 metres from the bottom of the gangway platform.
  • Whilst disembarking a vessel using a port side ladder, the Pilot noticed a nylon chock loose and hanging out, approx. 3.5 metres from the bottom of the ladder on the aft side.
  • A tripping line was fitted below the bottom spreader, and the ladder steps were not horizontal (See picture 3)
  • A heavy metal socket was fitted at the end of a heaving line. The line was lowered during a transfer on the outward pilotage.
  • Rung bent on rubber ladder steps. Tripping line fitted below spreader. Side ropes not continuous as also mentioned in the comment for picture two (See picture 4).

CHIRP Comment:

The CHIRP Maritime Advisory Board commented that the SOLAS requirement for a tripping line states: “When a retrieval line is considered necessary to ensure the safe rigging of a pilot ladder, the line should be fastened at or above the last spreader step and should lead forward. The retrieval line should not hinder the pilot nor obstruct the safe approach of the pilot boat.

As the pictures show, there is a long way to go to improve ladder safety. Pilots, and indeed vessel personnel, are risking their lives with these arrangements. All ladders should be carefully inspected prior to use and should be maintained properly in order to ensure that they remain fit for purpose.



Report Ends…………………