#dangerousladders - Using social media to improve pilot transfer safety.

by Kevin Vallance deep sea pilot and author - published -
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#dangerousladders - Using social media to improve pilot transfer safety.
It remains a sad fact that accidents and near misses continue to occur during pilot transfers with frightening regularity. Most of these fortunately do not result in injury, and a surprisingly high number of them are not even recognised for what they are.

Surveys into pilot ladder safety consistently reveal that unacceptably high numbers of pilot transfer arrangements are not compliant with the regulations.

What should be a routine shipboard operation, regulated within the SOLAS convention Regulation 23, updated in July 2012 and the IMO Resolution A 1045 (27) from 2011 is still found to be deficient with alarming regularity.

It is important that all personnel involved in the transfer of marine pilots are aware of the regulations and are able to identify when the boarding arrangements are deficient and therefore unsafe for their intended purpose.
One group of people often overlooked in this procedure are the pilot boat crew members. In August 2013, Ignacio Chofre, a member of the pilot boat crew at the port of Valencia, Spain was so concerned with what he was observing that he tweeted a photograph of a non-compliant boarding arrangement on Twitter.

This thread very quickly became #dangerousladders, and other concerned individuals started to add their own photographs and comments onto this Twitter feed. Following a number of conversations the unofficial ‘project leaders’ decided in September 2017 to transfer the main #dangerousladders initiative onto Facebook in an attempt to raise the profile and to attract a wider audience.

What must be appreciated is that there is no actual #dangerousladders, its just 3 administrators who try to co-ordinate efforts to improve pilot safety. There are a number of individuals located around the world who have a shared passion for this subject and these are the ones who are driving things forward.

One of the earliest decisions was to decide if the group should be open or closed, it was decided to keep the group closed which means that we the administrators have a degree of control over the membership. The site proved to be an immediate success and currently has over 1600 members. Anyone applying whose Facebook shows any links with seafaring will be accepted; at the time of writing only one member has been removed.

In August of 2019 I was interviewed by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects to give comments for their magazine on the subject of ‘Pilot Transfer Arrangements’. This was something I approached with relish because for some considerable time ‘we’ have been aware that ship builders and designers were both important stakeholders who we needed to engage with. The article when published was well received and hopefully will have opened a few people’s eyes.

One interesting question from the interviewer was ‘what, if anything do you think #dangerousladders has achieved’? I gave a short answer to this question, but later asked our Facebook page for comments. A total of 47 comments were raised, a few (of the shorter ones) are given below;


Chris Hoyle (Southampton Pilot)  It’s got the RINA’s attention so that’s a good start,

Adam Roberts (Port Kembla Pilot)It is a go to forum for questions related to standards.
Given the time zones and member work schedules you would generally expect a pretty quick answer to any questions you might have.

Dave Williamson (Liverpool Pilot) How many members? How many people have posted? How many associated comments? How many pilots now standing firm on what should be proper standards? How many ships regularly reported to harbour authorities and marine administrations?
Time for IACS to re-educate and implement published standards not individual Class Assoc interpretation.
Yes it is having a notable affect.

Arie Palmers  (Netherlands Pilot) i’m very glad this page exists, gave me a lot of awareness.. even though it makes me feel even more unsafe climbing ladders.. cause 5 years ago i didn’t know whT i know now... on the side of the ships: nothing has changed.. they don’t give a shit, exceptions granted off course..

Porthos Augusto De Lima Filho In Brazil we've been inspired by your initiative of creating this group. We are trying to show our Pilots how important it is to exchange information about dangerous arrangements. Thanks for all Pilots that contribute to this forum

Recently one shipping company had two of their vessels included on our page on the same day, when their shore management became aware of the situation they were very quick to praise us for raising the noncompliance’s and enabling them to take action.

Going forward we are hoping to engage further with all stakeholders and the ultimate aim has to be raising awareness to such a level that the IMO realise the need for a review and revision of SOLAS V Regulation 23 and their resolution A1045 (27).

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Article Pilot Transfer Arrangements

by Captain Kevin Vallance MNI - published

Most pilot embarkations and disembarkations around the world, are still carried out using a traditional pilot ladder, consisting of wooden steps supported and secured by side ropes.

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Article A contempt for pilot safety and total disregard for the contents of the SOLAS Convention.

by Captain Kevin Vallance MNI - published

Tuesday, October 1st is the start date of the latest International Maritime Pilot Association's annual Safety Campaign.

Previous campaigns by the association have consistently shown results of pilot ladder deficiencies around the 20% mark.

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by Kevin Vallance deep sea pilot and author - published

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So do watch it’s interesting.

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Found on YouTube. Created by "Rick88888888".
Spectacular (silent) film footage of the construction of the Panama Canal more than a century ago.
The film shows the construction of the Miraflores and Gatun locks in detail as well as the digging of "The Culebra Cut" including steam trains, steam shovels and steam dredgers at work and scenes of the locks an the Canal in its first days op operation in 1914.

Wikipedia: The Panama Canal (Spanish: Canal de Panamá) is an artificial 82 km (51 miles) waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a conduit for maritime trade. Canal locks are at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, 26 m (85 ft) above sea level, and then lower the ships at the other end. The original locks, "Miraflores" in the South and "Gatun locks" in the North, are 32.5 m (110 ft) wide.

France began work on the canal in 1881, but stopped because of engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate, caused by malaria and yellow fever. The United States took over the project in 1904 and opened the canal on August 15, 1914. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the Panama Canal shortcut greatly reduced the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, enabling them to avoid the lengthy, hazardous Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage or Strait of Magellan and the even less popular route through the Arctic Archipelago and the Bering Strait.

Thse footage has been motion-stabilized, speed-corrected, contrast- and brightness enhanced, de-noised, restored, upscaled and colorized by means of state-of-the-art AI sofware.
It took over a month to restore and colorize all available footage, our largest project ever!

This restored film is without sound. The reason is the difficulty to find near one hour of suitable music.

Please help to improve this draft Timeline:
00:00 Miraflores Locks in the South
02:10 Steam shovels in "The Cut"
02:26 West Indian workers drill holes in the rock for explosives
03:44 Not every explosion goes as it should...
04:18 Workers along the railway line
05:40 Steam shovels at work
10:10 Steam trains remove the rocks
11:42 Another blast
12:50 Views from a high point of "The Cut"
14:10 The railway tracks
15:07 Freight trains pass a check point
15:50 Special trains push earth and rocks aside
16:47 Close up view of a special train in action
18:21 West Indian workers shift the railway tracks
19:15 Workers climb up the mountain
20:22 Fresh workers arrive by steam train
21:38 Another day ahead for the workers and the steam shovels
24:22 Shifting a huge drum
24:45 More steam shovels at work
25:16 Steam trains with special equipment
25:58 Workers removing rails
26:30 Gatun locks in the North still under construction
26:52 Flooded rain forest forming Gatun Lake
27:19 The huge lock doors have been installed
27:28 Testing floading the locks
28:48 A lock filling up
29:10 Small ships enter the lock
30:05 A train ride along the canal
30:38 Preparing to blow up the last dam
31:07 Spectators gather for the blasting of the last dam
31:58 Opening a huge valve
32:42 Blasting of the last dam
33:18 Water flows into the Canal
33:27 Dredgers enter the Canal
33:44 More blasting along the Canal
34:20 Gatun locks open
35:32 Numerous ships enter the locks
37:10 The next lock chamber opens
38:46 Small boat with dignatories on the Canal
40:33 Views of the Canal and Gatun Lake
41:05 Dredgers at work to deepen the Canal
41:36 More lock views
43:03 Busy scenes at the locks
43:52 Spectators on the opening lock doors
46:01 A pilot rowing boat on its way to receive the ropes of a ship
46:42 Inner lock chamber scenes
47:45 Lock doors opening
48:49 Ship leaving the locks
49:13 More steam dredgers at work
50:02 Close up view of an active steam dredger
50:36 Rubble is released through the bottom of a barge into the lake
51:18 Flushing rubble away with a watercanon
52:40 Dredgers seen from a high viewpoint
53:52 Final views of the Canal

In view of the amount of available enhanced footage, Part-2 will follow shortly!

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Video St Johns Bar Pilot Association

A collection of action from the St Johns Bar Pilot Association

In the early 1800′s as the commercial ports along the St Johns River began to develop, a select group of brave and skilled seafarers would row to sea to meet arriving cargo sailing ships. These daring individuals would use their extensive local knowledge to safely guide the sailing ships across the treacherous sand bars that guarded the river entrance. This was the origin of the St. Johns Bar Pilots. Initially it was a bit of a free-for-all as competition was keen among these pilots to be first to “call for the ship” and claim the right to pilot the ships in and out of port.

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For more than 120 years, the traditions of safety and excellence in service have been passed from one Pilot to the next. All of the modern St. Johns Bar Pilots hold unlimited endorsements as First Class Pilot and have extensive leadership experience from their prior service at sea. Pilots are available at anytime, day or night, and often board and pilot vessels in the most frightening conditions of wind, seas, rain and fog. They are among the most intensely trained and experienced mariners in the world. The Pilot’s dedication to serve the marine transportation interests of the port of Jacksonville are in keeping with their mantra:

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