Shipping Industry Guidance on Pilot Transfer Arrangements

Pilots join vessels to assist the Master and crew during critical and potentially hazardous phases of navigation. Qualified pilots possess particular local knowledge pertinent to the voyage, and have the necessary ship-handling skills to assist the safe arrival and departure of vessels. Normally, pilots board and disembark using a traditional pilot ladder from and to an awaiting pilot boat. However, this can be a dangerous procedure if those involved do not adhere to IMO standards or fail to practise acceptable seamanship skills. A number of pilots have died as a result of accidents while boarding/disembarking from vessels, and many have been seriously injured. Furthermore, deficiencies with regards to the boarding arrangements and unsafe rigging of pilot ladders continue to be detected during port state control inspections, resulting in delays and financial penalties for the operator. Nevertheless, pilot ladders remain the safest and most efficient way to board vessels at sea and there is often no alternative, except on occasion when a helicopter can be used.