Accident With Pilot Ladder

When a vessel was at anchorage, a diving boat was tied up aft of the vessel for some work. A pilot ladder was rigged to let people climb down to the diving boat. While a person was climbing down, the ladder gave way and suffered total rope failure at 6 different points within the top 4 to 5 meters. The person fell and landed on the work deck of the diving boat approximately 10 metres down from the ship’s poop deck.

2013.03.29 - Accident With Pilot Ladder Figure 1

The person suffered moderate injuries, but in the opinion of the medical staff, he was lucky to have survived. The investigation concluded that the ladder was made by the ship’s crew, and had been constructed in the same manner as a pilot ladder (4×3 strand 18 mm manila ropes) except that no spreaders had been used.

The rope at the top of the ladder was hard, discoloured and had disintegrated as it twisted against the lay. In the opinion of the company’s investigation team, the poor condition of the upper part of the rope was due to the inappropriate way it had been stored and chemicals in close proximity to each other. No (in-situ) load test had been carried out by a rigger or responsible person prior to the ladder’s use.

2013.03.29 - Accident With Pilot Ladder Figure 2

People often attend vessels at anchorage using pilot ladders. In that respect the following is emphasised:

  1. Prior to use, pilot ladders should be subject to inspection of ropes and spreaders, including a load test. The responsible officer on board should confirm that the ladder is in good condition.
  2. Pilot ladders should be manufactured and certified in accordance with appropriate standards.
  3. Pilot ladders need to be properly stowed, carefully inspected and maintained, and correctly rigged. The local environment may weaken the rope (chemicals).
  4. Man ropes should be ready to be rigged at the user’s request, especially in adverse sea conditions.

SOLAS Ch.V Regulation 23 “Pilot transfer arrangements” states that appliances shall be kept clean, properly maintained and stowed, and shall be regularly inspected to ensure that they are safe for use. It is the master’s responsibility that the ladders in use are safe.

2013.03.29 - Accident With Pilot Ladder Figure 3

See also: Revised Pilot Transfer Arrangements Requirements

Source: DNV


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