The US Coast Guard issued a Safety Alert after someone died after falling from a pilot ladder. Modifications to the pilot ladder were found that may have contributed to the accident.

The incident is also covered in The Nautical Institute’s latest Mars Reports. The Nautical Institute gathers reports of maritime accidents and near-misses. It then publishes these so-called Mars Reports (anonymously) to prevent other accidents from happening. A summary of this incident:

The US Coast Guard is investigating a casualty involving a fall from a pilot ladder. In this incident, the handholds in the gate arrangement aboard the vessel were modified so that the gate arrangement was not rigidly secured to the vessel’s structure at the point where the ladder comes aboard. This left a gap in the handholds where an embarking person might reasonably be expected to reach to pull themselves up.

The gap above the vessel structure appeared to be a modification to allow for the passing of the spreader during deployment and retrieval of the pilot ladder. This made it possible to retrieve the pilot ladder without having to lift the spreader up and over the vessel’s railings.

Modified pilot ladder

Safety Alert

A Safety Alert has been issued, although, at this time we cannot speculate on how this modification contributed to the accident. Readers are reminded that pilot ladder requirements as specified in SOLAS 2004 (Consolidated) and by IMO Resolution A.1045 (27) should be strictly adhered to.

Also read: Near miss as pilot rope ladder fails

Advice from The Nautical Institute

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently published a series of standards aimed at improving pilot ladder safety. These standards supplement existing IMO recommendations and requirements for pilot ladders. Vessel owners and operators, shipboard personnel and system designers are strongly encouraged to review and comply with these standards.

  • ISO 799-1:2019 Ships and marine technology – Pilot ladders – Part 1: Desnign ad specification.
  • ISO 799-2: 2021 Ships and marine technology – Pilot ladders – Part 2: Maintenance, use, survey, and inspection.
  • ISO 799-3:2022 Ships and marine technology – Pilot ladders – Part 3: Attachments and associated equipment.

Also read: ‘Inspect your ship’s pilot ladder scrupulously and at regular intervals’

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202242, that are part of Report Number 360. A selection of this Mars Report was also published in SWZ|Maritime’s November 2022 issue. The Nautical Institute compiles these reports to help prevent maritime accidents. That is why they are also published (in full) on SWZ|Maritime’s website.

More reports are needed to keep the scheme interesting and informative. All reports are read only by the Mars coordinator and are treated in the strictest confidence. To submit a report, please use the Mars report form.

Picture (top) by Ishikawa Ken / Flickr.

Also read: Man overboard while rigging the pilot ladder