The sad news of yet another pilot death earlier this week has prompted calls again for all stakeholders to fully engage in trying to improve the standard of pilot transfer arrangements that are being used on a daily basis.
A ship pilot, Barra Miguel Conceição, at the Port of Lisbon in Portugal died after falling into the water while disembarking from a Hapag-Lloyd boxship on Wednesday morning during stormy weather. The incident is under investigation.
Captain Kevin Vallance, a master mariner and author of the Pilot Ladder Manual, told Splash that despite regulatory requirements laid down within SOLAS V regulation 23 there continue to be tragic and fatal accidents involving pilots. Pilot transfers were responsible for five fatalities during 2017.
“Industry studies consistently show that around 20% of pilot ladders offered are noncompliant in one way or another,” Vallance said. He pointed out that increasingly he was coming across counterfeit products such as pilot ladders purporting to comply with regulations when even a cursory visual inspection clearly confirms that they do not comply. Certificates are also routinely found to be copied.
Another issue that needs addressing, according to Vallance, is that vessels are still being delivered where due to lack of good design it is difficult if not impossible to rig a compliant ladder arrangement.
Vallance has been helping Fidra Films, a UK-based maritime production company, to develop a series of short films, due to air this May, aimed at improving the safety of pilot transfer arrangements.