Unsafe pilot boarding and disembarking arrangements.


A report outlining an appalling disregard for safety, where a pilot’s life was placed in danger due to an entirely unnecessary risk.


What the reporter told us:

On the evening of 17th April, the vessel in question asked for a pilot for an outbound manoeuvre. The weather conditions were good. The vessel was requested to rig a pilot ladder on the offshore side along with other requirements relating to the tug and unmooring procedures. The master confirmed that the ship was in all respects ready to sail. The pilot arranged to board the vessel from a boat shortly afterwards. As the pilot was boarding, he placed his weight on the ladder and the ladder slipped down about a rung’s length. He then tested the ladder once more and it held, and so he continued to board. When the pilot got to deck level, he saw that an officer (of approximately two metres in height and 140 kilograms in weight) was holding the ladder against the edge of the deck to prevent the ladder from falling down. Essentially, the officer was securing the ladder by using his body weight because the ladder had not been secured to any point AT ALL! Upon arrival on the bridge, the pilot immediately reported the situation to the master and received an apology. Upon completion of the pilotage, the pilot prepared to disembark. However, once again, the ladder had not been made fast and there was just one rung “hooked” into a piece of angle-iron welded on the deck. The pilot again complained that the ladder was not made fast but one of the crew members jumped on the ladder to show him that it was safe enough! As the vessel was outbound and there was other traffic waiting for pilot service, the pilot chose to disembark and there was no further incident.


What the company told us:

CHIRP wrote to the relevant company who responded and thanked CHIRP Maritime for bringing this to their attention. The following points are a précis of the company response; 

  • Unforgiveable negligence of the crew who checked the securing of the ladder.
  • It was reported that the ladder was fastened at one point to the deck, but this cannot be followed up with any degree of certainty.
  • It is the first time that a case such as this has happened within our fleet.
  • In view of the report we will take all necessary steps to prevent a recurrence.

  CHIRP Comment:

The Maritime Advisory Board thanked the company for responding to this incident report and agreed with the company that this practice is simply unacceptable. Irrespective of whether the ladder was fastened at one point to the deck or not at all, it was not correctly rigged nor checked to ensure that it was safe for boarding / disembarkation. CHIRP has plenty of reports where ladders have not been correctly rigged at deck level, and some of these have been highlighted on our Facebook (https://en-gb.facebook.com/Chirpmaritime/) page. The use of shackles, spreaders, and angle-iron bars or similar are all illegal methods of securing a ladder. The ladder should have the loose ends of the side ropes secured (lashed) to eye bolts or deck pads and this should be at a distance from the ship side railings – not less than 915mm – so as not to obstruct the deck at the pilot embarkation position.


CHIRP once again reinforces the point that no pilot should ever feel that he is being forced into embarkation or disembarkation via a ladder that is believed to be unsafe. We make no apology for repeating this and encourage all pilots to report any unsatisfactory arrangements to port authorities and Port State Control regimes who should actively support their pilots in this respect.


Report Ends