Pilot Ladder Manual - Advanced

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Published Date

November 2017

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Pilot Ladder Manual - Advanced

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This guide details the procedures that should be followed when preparing for pilot embarkation and disembarkation. It sets risk in context through relevant excerpts from IMO regulations and findings from the 2016 IMPA Safety Survey. Photographs and diagrams effectively demonstrate good and bad practice.

This publication emphasises the importance to ship operators and seafarers of adhering to established rules when preparing for pilot embarkation and disembarkation. It covers the responsibilities of all personnel involved in pilot transfer, pilot ladder construction and securing the pilot ladder. IMPA Safety Survey findings highlight areas of preparation that are often missed, raising awareness of possible risk mitigating measures. The guide includes the complete text of IMO Resolution A.1045(27) on Pilot Transfer Arrangements.

1.General Responsibilities of all Involved in Pilot Transfer
1.1 Regulations Applicable to Pilot Transfer Arrangements
1.2 Pilot Boarding Grounds
1.3 Owners and Ship Management Companies
1.4 On Board the Ship
1.5 Pilotage Services
1.6 Pilots
1.7 Pilot Boat Crew


2. Pilot Ladder Construction


3. Securing the Pilot Ladder


4. Access to the Deck


5. Supervision


6. Shipside Doors


7. Combination Ladders


8. Associated Equipment


9. Lighting



Throughout the world, at any time and in any weather conditions, a number of marine pilots will be in transit from one location to another. Each of these pilots will need to be safely embarked or disembarked from their ship. There are a number of ways in which this transfer operation can be completed, each involving a certain degree of risk.


It is critical that all involved in pilot transfer are fully aware of the dangers that exist. Only through effective training and education can pilot transfer operations be made safer, irrespective of the transfer method used.


Pilot embarkation and disembarkation normally takes place when the ship is underway or alongside a berth, but it may also take place when the ship is at anchor. Possible transfer methods include by pilot boat, helicopter or directly from the shore. Transfer may be facilitated by the ship’s accommodation ladder or vehicle ramp, or possibly by crane basket. However, the usual method is by traditional wooden pilot ladder, and this arrangement is the focus of the publication.


Despite the best efforts of the International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA), various regional and national pilot associations, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), there continue to be far too many reports of poorly rigged or unsafe pilot ladders.


In recent years, a significant number of pilots have been fatally injured as a direct result of accidents occurring during embarkation or disembarkation and many more have been seriously injured.


IMPA represents the international community of marine pilots and as such promotes the ‘effective safety outcomes in pilotage’. Periodically, IMPA conducts Safety Campaigns which collate details of pilot transfer compliance in accordance with internationally agreed standards. The most recent survey was held during October 2016. It reported that defects were recorded on 481 (18%) of the 2,709 ships for which details were provided. The figure for non-compliance in the 2002 survey was 22% and in the 2015 survey the non-compliance figure was 21%.


Standards cannot be said to have improved significantly, despite the recent changes to the regulations and recommendations. There continue to be many inadequate or unsafe transfer arrangements presented for pilots.


The aim of this publication is to remind all seafarers of the importance of adhering to the rules and established procedures when preparing for embarkation and disembarkation of pilots.

Witherby Publishing Group

Witherbys titles are developed using scripts developed by technical experts that are peer reviewed within work groups. Typically, they seek to improve understanding of the regulations, recommendations and guidelines issued by Industry.

Witherbys staff have significant expertise in the fields of navigation and hazardous cargoes as well as in the presentation of complex subjects in a graphic and easy to understand manner.

Captain Kevin Vallance

Captain Kevin Vallance has held the role of Master with South Coast Shipping Co and in 2006, became a Trinity House Licensed Deep Sea Pilot. He was elected to the United Kingdom Maritime Pilots’ Association Technical and Training Committee and represented them at a variety of safety meetings during his 5 year tenure. In 2020, he was awarded the Merchant Navy Medal for his services to maritime safety.

Title: Pilot Ladder Manual - Advanced
Number of Pages: 93
Product Code: WS1603K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-85609-757-4 (9781856097574), ISBN 10: 1-85609-757-9 (1856097579)
Published Date: November 2017
Book Height: 235 mm
Book Width: 155 mm
Book Spine: 7 mm
Weight: 0.30 kg
Author: Kevin Vallance

Customer Reviews

Should be required reading for all concerned. Review by Chris
This excellent book should be required reading for all those responsible for the safety of pilot transfer arrangements. Everyone from the seafarer to the naval architect should read and understand the content.

Kevin communicates his extensive knowledge in an easy to understand and concise way, navigating the reader through what can be a bewildering subject.

Buy it and read it. (Posted on 20/02/2018)
There was a need for this book Review by Ignacio
With a level of non compliance around 20% in the most optimistic figures, pilot transfer ops. is a too much often mistreated aspect of maritime bussines. Kevin Vallance, with his deep knowledge of the topic, realized there was a need of a document that could be used as a guidance for all involved. Not only the will to do it but also the required level of expertise, the extensive work, the right contacts, hundreds of chats, emails and photographs to select from all around the world. All of it for the enlightenment of the truth behind the non compliance and the correct procedures involved in pilot boarding & landing ops. Thanks Kevin Vallance for your commitment to pilot and pilot boat crews safety. (Posted on 18/11/2017)
This book will improve the safety of pilots from every country Review by Giuseppe Raffa, Messina Straits Pilot, Italy
Well done Kevin Vallance !
I hope everyone involved in pilotage and harbors can read this book to know better nowadays the issue of boarding and landing operations.

I’ll be happy if every ship’s library has a copy of this book, available to the crew, in order to rig more safe pilot ladders.

I might suggest that this book should be included in the training programs of psc and harbor authorities.
Surely this book will improve the safety of pilots from every country !
(Posted on 09/11/2017)

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