It is of paramount importance to have a thorough and frequent pilot ladder inspection regime in place – a person’s life depends on it, says the Nautical Institute in its latest Mars Report. In this report, the rope of pilot ladders was found damage after just six months of service.

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:

During a regular crew inspection of lifesaving and other equipment it was found that both pilot ladders had sustained damage on the side and on the top part of the manilla side ropes.

The ladders had been in service for only six months, and were stowed on the pilot ladder reel. The damage is believed to have been caused by the mechanical crimping, which is used in place of rope seizing to secure the steps when the ladders are rolled onto the ladder reel. Similar ladders that had been stowed on deck were not reported damaged.

The company investigation found that in addition to causing undue wear/chafing of manila ropes, the use of crimps to secure the steps may cause twisting in the side ropes. This in turn can inhibit grip.

Also read: Lifebuoy best located aft of pilot ladder

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202317, that are part of Report Number 366. A selection of this Mars Report was also published in SWZ|Maritime’s May 2023 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.

Also read: Does your pilot ladder meet requirements?