The scariest 15 minutes of my life

by Marine-Pilots.com - published

The scariest 15 minutes of my life
An authentic report by Marine Pilot Capt. Agha Umar Habib (Port of Sohar, Oman) about a dramatic incident on July 23, 2019.

I thank you God
My fall in the water on July 23rd, 2019 was an event which re-affirmed my faith in God. Something I had to bear for someone else’s negligence. I was gratified to my God for not inflicting any mental or bodily harm to me.

The pilot ladder broke - How it happened
I am a Marine pilot in the Port of Sohar, Oman with an experience of more than 13 years in this technical field of pilotage. During my night shift on 23 July 2019 I was on Pilot boat Svitzer, Al-Kharara, to board on m.v. Opal Fortune at 0130 hours. Like any regular day, I geared up as per international safety standard and departed the pilot boat by stepping on the pilot ladder. But, as soon as I stepped on the 3rd step of the pilot ladder I heard rattling voice with the most horrifying realization of falling into the sea due to the broken ladder, which started tumbling down with me resulting into my fall between the ship and the pilot boat.

I swam for my life in darkness
The inflation of life jacket jolted me to the severity of the situation and my instant reflux was to open my both arms to avoid crushing between pilot boat and the ship. This effort gave some scratches on both of my hands. Once I resurfaced, I saw the Ship’s propeller behind me. Immediately I started to swim away from it, as it was churning slowly. By my deliberate and conscious swimming, I was nearly able to miss the propeller. During this swimming effort, I realized that my backpack was hindering my efforts and sinking me down so I immediately took off my bag.

My lucky rescue
Though it was pitch dark but I spotted the broken pilot ladder and a lifebuoy floating beside me. I swam towards the buoy and held it tightly. In the meantime, I saw that pilot boat had turned around and was searching for me. I started shouting “ Ali..Ali” to the crew on pilot boat. This made it possible for the boat crew to locate my position and they went inside the boat to update the Captain (Abu Shaker) regarding my position in water. The Captain tried to bring pilot boat beside me and he succeeded in second attempt. They threw a rope to me which I tied to my arm. After that they pulled me toward the aft of the pilot boat. I used the ladder to climb up the pilot boat. I was later taken to the hospital by the officials and was very well taken care. Presence of my Harbour master and colleagues at the hospital at that hour of the night, was very humbling. I felt much relaxed in their presence. My family was also updated by them which made it easy for them to reach me.

The scariest 15 minutes of my life
Those 15 minutes in the sea, were the scariest of my life as I was not sure of what will happen next or even if I would survive! God’s special blessing it was!!! Thanks to the bearable temperatures of the water in the Gulf of Oman, its low swell and quick response of the pilot boat captain, who switched off its propeller immediately upon seeing me falling, I was able to survive this accident unharmed, which could have proven fatal.

It can happen to any Marine Pilot - Every day
The accident is over and I was back on duty the next day, but a lot of questions need to be answered and many concerns need to be addressed for the safety of marine pilots all over the world and for the risk involved in this profession. These men are no less than heroes who work day in day out and risk their lives to keep the world’s shipping moving. Are the safety standards on ships, facilities for pilots and international regulations to regulate the whole process worth the risk? Think about it!

Story by Capt. Agha Umar Habib (Port of Sohar, Oman)
What's your opinion on this?
Be the first to comment...
Login or register to view comments and join the discussion!
Read more...

Article In Memoriam of Captain Dennis R. Sherwood (1955 - 2019)

by Bianca Reineke, lutheran Pastor, Germany - published

Ladders are the bridges for crossing the rough seas of our lives.
When you are a Marine Pilot at work, hoping and praying that the ladders which let you embark the vessel are stable, safe and not dangerous.
In Memoriam of the late Captain Dennis Sherwood who passed away on Monday the 30th of December.

Article Container Ship hits Mooring Boat in Italy

by www.MaritimeBulletin.net - published

According to a report today by www.MaritimeBulletin.net a mooring boat was rammed from a container ship and sunk.

Article Pilot injured during embarking in Taiwan. (Video)

by Marine-Pilots.com - published

Video: Climbing the pilot ladder, the pilot is hit by Pilot Boat.

Video History: River Thames Pilot (1960-1969)

Found on YouTube. Created by "British Pathé"
Location: England

Various shots following a river pilot. He is seen disembarking from one boat and climbing up a rope ladder onto a large ship.

Various shots of another river pilot, dressed in a cap, woollen jumper and sea faring jacket. He is seen at the wheel of his boat.

Various shots of two river police pilots on the River Thames in London. They are filmed in the cab and on the deck of their boat. They pull up alongside some riverboat houses and talk to a woman who owns one of the them. Back in their boat, there are now three river pilots making their journey along the Thames. CU. A river police union Jack flag at the back of the boat. VS. The boat drives alongside Victoria Wharf and London dock lands. VS. An RAF helicopter hovers alongside the police boat before flying off into the distance. CU. Another helicopter flying away.
FILM ID:3299.02

A VIDEO FROM BRITISH PATHÉ. EXPLORE OUR ONLINE CHANNEL, BRITISH PATHÉ TV. IT'S FULL OF GREAT DOCUMENTARIES, FASCINATING INTERVIEWS, AND CLASSIC MOVIES. http://www.britishpathe.tv/

Video History: Lightship (1950)

Found on YouTube. Created by "British Pathé"

Goodwin Sands, Kent.

M/S bows of Trinity House ship "Ready". L/S "Tongue" lightship at sunset. Panning M/S from side to front of service ship (deck level). M/S lightship. M/S bridge of service ship, lightship passes. L/S two ships, pan to lightship.

C/U ship's telegraph coming to "stop". M/S seaman pulls fresh water hose to lightship. L/S deck of service ship, general activity. C/U provisions waiting to be transported to lightship. M/S men passing food between ships. L/S side of service ship, men watching. C/U hose connected, pan up to lightship. C/U officer on service ship.

C/U officer on lightship waving, pan to service ship pulling away. C/U seaman on lightship. M/S on lightship, sailor W. Brown, climbs ladder to lamp. M/S inside tower, sailor switches on lamp, pan to gears. C/U gears. M/S swinging lamp. Various shots light mirrors revolving. L/S moon over water.

Inside lightship. Various shots of seamen relaxing playing cards, smoking and chatting. M/S lightship master operating radio. Night shot revolving lamp.
FILM ID:1371.3

Video A day in the life of a TasPorts' Marine Pilot

Video by Tasmanian Ports Corporation

TasPorts' Marine Pilot Nick Hess recently produced a video from footage our crews have captured around Tasmania.

The video provides an amazing insight into the work TasPorts’ Marine Pilots undertake every day around the state - an essential part of the business that not many people get the opportunity to see.

Video A day in the life of a pilot boat

Found on YouTube. Created by "Bruce Flett"

PILOT LAUNCH SCAPA PATHFINDER IN ACTION...4/5/2020

Video Harbor Pilot Disembarking at Bar Pilot Station Liverpool UK

After almost four hours of work to safely guide and assist the Ship's Captain in navigating the vessel out from Liverpool's Royal Seaforth Container/Roro Terminal (RSCT) in Liverpool UK, the Harbor Pilot disembarks at Bar Pilot Station, a rendezvous point or certain place where a ship should take the Sea/River/Harbor Pilot on and off. In this video, the Pilot disembarked at the Starboard side (right side), lee side of the vessel which is the normal practice. The term "lee side" means away or that is sheltered from the wind. The vessel should slow down and maneuver safely to place the vessel to the lee side. Pilots usually advised the Captain of the approximate speed and heading required for this critical phase of ship handling and operation. The ship Captain, being the top in command, is on the bridge navigation deck to oversee, handle and assess safe operation. Good communication is a vital key to this operation. He/She should communicate with the Deck Officer in order for the Deck Ratings to prepare all the equipment and of course the "Pilot ladder" for safe disembarkation. The Captain should communicate with the Pilot boat as well. He/she should also confirm with the Deck Officer that the ladder has been properly checked and rigged as per instruction/recommendation from the Pilot. He/She should also communicate with the Engine room that the Pilot is about to disembark, and upon leaving the vessel, the Deck Officer should report to the Captain that the Pilot has safely disembarked, take note of the time as this is usually included in some of the ship reporting which is to be done later on, the Captain notifies the Engine room of the actual time of Pilot disembarkation. After a safe Pilot disembarkation, the Deck Ratings should secure the Pilot ladder for sea passage, other equipment used and also the Pilot door opening, if there is any. All of this operation should be done with the utmost care, as SAFETY is the top priority onboard.