Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
On 9 February the US Coast Guard issued Safety Alert 04-22-CH1 from Washington, DC.
This Safety Alert addresses the importance of verifying the correct arrangement of handholds in embarkation gate arrangements aboard merchant vessels.
It is understood that the Coast Guard is currently investigating a casualty
involving a fall from a pilot ladder where the handholds in the gate arrangement aboard the vessel terminated without being rigidly secured to the vessel’s
structure. This termination left a gap in the handholds at the transition point at the head of the pilot ladder, where an embarking person might reach to pullthemselves onto the vessel.
The Coast Guard observed that the abrupt termination of the handholds above the vessel structure appeared to be a modification that was completed to
accommodate the length of the pilot ladder spreader during deployment and retrieval of the pilot ladder. The modification made it possible to retrieve the pilot ladder without having to lift the spreader up and over the vessel’s railings.
SOLAS 2020 (Consolidated) is clarified by IMO Resolution A.1045 (27), as amended by Resolution A.1108 (29), to indicate that each handhold in a gateway arrangement should be rigidly secured to the ship’s structure at or near its base.
US Coast Guard recommendation
In its Safety Alert 04-22-CH1 of 9 February the Coast Guard strongly recommends that flag state administrations, classification societies,
port state control inspectors, and shipboard personnel:
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 highly encouraged to review and comply with these standards.
The ISO documents are:
The USCG document informs that Safety Alert 04-22-CH1is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational, or material requirements.
The document has been developed by the Coast Guard Sector New York Investigations Division, and distributed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis.
Coast Guard invite any questions on this topic.
They should be sent to: HQS-SMB-CG-INV@uscg.mil
Coast Guard draws attention to other related available information here:
IMO and IMPA
Advice by IMO and the International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA) with a Required Boarding Arrangements for Pilot poster is available on the IMPA website here:
Illustration per US Coast Guard Safety Alert 04-22-CH1.
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