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Are pilot ladders as safe as they should be, asks The Nautical Institute

Posted on: 25 April 2022

The dire consequences of failing to ensure personal safety when it comes to the maintenance and rigging of pilot ladders onboard today’s vessels, came under close scrutiny by speakers and delegates attending the latest industry webinar presented by The Nautical Institute (NI).

The ‘Pilot Ladder Safety’ Webinar, which was attended by over 1,000 maritime professionals, raised a series of serious issues such as how important is it to preserve life, and is the relative low cost of a ladder something that can be overlooked when the repercussions of a vessel potentially being detained for port state control infringements or the cost of a ship being refused to be boarded by a Pilot potentially so punitive?

Members of The NI and the International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA) have been concerned for many years at the needlessly high rate of Pilot Ladder casualties, and resulting deaths and injuries.

The NI is continuously reminded of the problem with boarding arrangements from its Members and through its Mariners’ Alerting and Reporting Scheme (MARS).

IMPA recently published its annual Safety Campaign results 2021 indicating that non-compliance with long established SOLAS regulations remains regrettably high – with little change from previous surveys. Progress is not happening. Still pilots are being injured and still lives are being lost during pilot transfer operations.

Nick Cutmore, Secretary General of IMPA and Capt John Pearn, AFNI, Chair of the IMPA Safety Committee, used the webinar to report on their findings and discuss how good seamanship can literally save lives. The Safety Campaign results and guidance on correct Boarding Arrangements are freely available on the IMPA website (

A recording of this safety critical webinar is available to the public on The NI’s YouTube Channel and all maritime professionals are encouraged to view and share it in order to save lives and reduce injury. This webinar follows a recent publication of The NI’s The Navigator magazine focusing on Pilotage issues and available freely online.

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