UK Pilot Ladder Incidents Survey shows 99.6% of pilot transfers completed safely during 2022
In the UK Marine Accident investigation Branch 2022 Annual Report, published this month, the headline news for pilot ladder safety is positive, but given that pilot transfer has a high potential consequence in the event of an accident this risk remains a priority for continuous improvement.
MAIB canvassed 105 UK Competent Harbour Authorities for their 2022 pilot transfer statistics. Almost 700 marine pilots conducted over 96,000 transfers underway using a pilot ladder, during which there were over 400 incidents or accidents. The most serious of which resulted in the pilot suffering a fractured ankle when they lost their grip on the handhold stanchion and fell 3 metres onto the pilot boat. Preliminary assessment found that the vessel’s handhold stanchions were not fit for purpose, as their design prevented the pilot gaining a firm grasp as they reached the top of the ladder.
■ 25% were because shackles rather than rolling hitches were used to secure the pilot ladder side ropes
■ 23% occurred because the material condition of the pilot ladder was poor
■ 13% happened because handhold stanchions were not fit for purpose.
The remaining 39% of reported incidents and accidents involved issues such as the length of the ladder, its position against the hull and incorrect rigging of the tripping line, among other noncompliance.