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Australia Fines Ship Master and Company Over Serious Pilot Ladder Accident

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 3289
April 2, 2024

Australia has successfully prosecuted a ship’s master and shipping company, Hong Kong-based Fu Ye Shipping, following a serious accident involving a ship’s pilot in 2023.

The accident occurred on May 25, 2023, when a pilot was severely injured while transferring to the Panama-flagged cargo ship Boshi 58 after the pilot ladder broke.

The master of the Boshi 58 and Fu Ye Shipping pleaded guilty and were fined AUD $5,300 and $32,000 respectively, for failure to comply with a 2023 marine order and Australia’s Navigation Act 2012.

During the court proceedings, prosecutors determined that the pilot ladder were not regularly checked and had been stored improperly, resulting in the ladder’s condition degrading to the point where it became unsafe.

The prosecution marked the second successful prosecution for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) and Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) related to a pilot ladder failure resulting in injury to the pilot. In June 2023, AAL Dampier Navigation Co Ltd was fined AUD $30,500 for a similar accident involving the AAL Dampier as it departed the Port of Fremantle the year before. In that accident, pilot was injured after falling about 7 meters from a faulty pilot ladder onto the deck of the pilot boat below.

Climbing up or down pilots ladders is inherently dangerous. However, AMSA Executive Director Operations Michael Drake said these accidents were preventable and put seafarers’ lives at risk.

“Pilots rely on a ship’s master and crew to properly maintain, stow and rig pilot ladders, and neglecting a pilot ladder can have deadly consequences,” he said.

Drake noted common issues with pilot ladders include falling short of accommodation ladders when used in combination, unsafe use of shackles, and failure to regularly inspect, maintain, and store them appropriately.

“If you own, operate or are the master of a ship, the safety of everyone using the pilot ladder is in your responsibility,” he said.

Last year, the AMSA updated its marine notice on safe pilot transfer arrangements.

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