The UK Maritime Pilots note that during a recent pilot disembarkation from a dry cargo vessel, both ropes on the pilot ladder parted simultaneously causing the pilot to fall approximately 2.0 meters to the deck of the pilot launch.
The pilot was incredibly fortunate that he only sustained injuries to his ankle, and that he was not killed or more seriously injured in the fall.
Transferring pilots is a hazardous operation and pilots make every effort on their part to minimize their personal risk when transferring to and from a ship, however the ladder they use to scale up and down the vertical side of a ship is something they must trust the ship operator to maintain, or in the case of a 2011 incident involving a US naval warship, rig up properly…
In their safety alert dated 11 June, the UK Pilots make the following recommendations:
- Prior to using a pilot ladder confirm with the vessel’s Master that the pilot ladder is safe to use and complies with all International Regulations.
- Pilots and Deckhands should visually inspect a pilot ladder for any obvious defects prior to its use.
- Pilot ladders are made of natural fibre rope and wood. Such materials can be subject to degredation from chemicals and cargoes which may impair the strength of the ladder and make them unsafe. Pilots and launch crew should be aware of this as part of their visual inspection.
- If there is any suspicion that a pilot ladder is unsafe – DO NOT USE.
- Defective ladders must be reported to MCA.