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TagsShips Logistics Shipping Transport Water Transport
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Document Text Contents
Page 1

Shipping industry guidance

rigging of
for pilot transfer
Ensuring compliance with


International Maritime Pilots� Association
International Chamber of Shipping
International Shipping Federation

Also supported by:

Oil Companies International
Marine Forum

Society of International
Gas Tanker and

Terminal Operators

Page 2

Vessel with defects
in the boarding

Page 3

The following guidance has been produced by the
International Maritime Pilots� Association (IMPA) in
collaboration with the International Chamber of Shipping
(ICS) and the International Shipping Federation (ISF).

Pilots come aboard ship to assist the crew during the most
critical and potentially hazardous phases of a voyage.
Quali�ed pilots possess exceptional local knowledge and
have the necessary ship-handling skills to assist the safe
arrival and departure of vessels.

Normally, pilots board and disembark using a traditional
rope ladder from and to a pilot boat. However, this can be a
very dangerous procedure if those involved do not adhere to
International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards or fail to
practise acceptable seamanship skills.

Most regrettably, in recent years, several pilots have died
as a result of accidents while boarding/disembarking from
ships, and many more have been seriously injured.

Furthermore, de�ciencies with regard to boarding
arrangements and unsafe rigging of pilot ladders continue to
be detected during port state control inspections, resulting in
delays and �nancial penalties for the ship operator.

Shipping industry guidance

rigging of
for pilot transfer
Ensuring compliance with


Page 5

Nevertheless, pilot ladders remain the most
safe and ef�cient way to board ships at sea
and there is usually no alternative, except
on occasions when a helicopter is used.

The following guidance is intended to
remind seafarers and shipping companies
of the vital importance of adhering to
the rules and established procedures
concerning the provision of safe boarding
arrangements for pilots.

Ensuring safe rigging
for pilots

The IMO Convention for Safety of Life at
Sea (SOLAS Chapter V, Regulation 23)
sets out the principal requirements for the
rigging of pilot ladders.

These provisions are set out in the
diagram contained in this brochure.
This diagram can be downloaded at (on the home page, click
on �Downloads�). It is also reproduced in
the ICS Bridge Procedures Guide.

There is a further detailed technical
speci�cation for pilot ladders in IMO
Resolution A.889(21). Shipping
companies have a legal obligation to
provide a conforming ladder and ship-
borne �ttings. If seafarers are uncertain
about any of the requirements, they
should always ask their supervising of�cer
for advice.

The two major causes of accidents are
defects in the ladder treads or sideropes
(see diagram) or a lack of proper
attachment of the ladder to the vessel.

Seafarers should always check the
condition of the ladder before it is rigged
and also ensure it is secure to the ship.
Whilst this is done, seafarers should
always take care of their own safety,
wearing a life jacket (and a life-line if

Management issues

Shipping companies should ensure that:

• Ladders are SOLAS compliant

• The inspection regime and records are

• Replacement ladders are quickly and
readily available on board

• Seafarers involved receive the
necessary training and have a full
understanding of the requirements.

IMPA is able to provide an advice
document for new construction designs.

On board issues

The Master and of�cers should:

• Closely supervise the rigging of pilot

• Closely observe the shipping/landing
of pilots from ladders, ensuring that
SOLAS requirements are met

• Maintain a lee until the pilot vessel is
well clear.


Pilots have the right to decline to board
vessels offering defective ladders, which
can result in serious delay. Pilots are
also entitled to report defects in boarding
ladders to port state control authorities,
which could lead to a full PSC inspection
with the risk of delay and �nancial

A pilot who has climbed a sound ladder,
well rigged, and attended by an of�cer
and a deck party will be in the right frame
of mind to give his best attention to the
safety of the vessel.

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