Article

AMSA warns of counterfeit pilot ladders and certificates


by Australian Maritime Safety Agency - published on 9 January 2024 0 -

Article and pictures by AMSA

This Pilot Advisory Note (PAN) advises AMSA-licensed coastal pilots and pilotage providers about the existence of counterfeit pilot ladders and associated certification.

Background
In March 2019, one of AMSA’s Port Marine Surveyors identified a pilot ladder onboard a vessel which appeared (on initial inspection), to be non-compliant with the pilot transfer requirements. The particular ladder is depicted in Figure 1 below:
Figure 1—Suspected non-compliant pilot ladder
Figure 1—Suspected non-compliant pilot ladder
Figure 1—Suspected non-compliant pilot ladder
Figure 1—Suspected non-compliant pilot ladder
The associated ‘inspection certificate’ presented at the time of the AMSA inspection, suggested that the ladder was made by ‘Qingdao Good Brother Marine Life-Saving Appliance Co. Ltd’. This document is indicated in Figure 2 below:
Figure 2—Fake inspection certificate
Figure 2—Fake inspection certificate
Figure 2—Fake inspection certificate
Figure 2—Fake inspection certificate
In November 2017, the ‘Qingdao Good Brother Marine Life-Saving Appliance Co. Ltd.’s’ products were the subject of a separate investigation which was instigated on the basis of a complaint made to AMSA by a port pilot. In this instance (herein), the manufacturer was not a fault.

On receipt of the information provided by the AMSA surveyor, AMSA’s ‘Head of Inspections – Ship Inspection and Registration’ passed the photos on to the China Classification Society (CCS), who has since carried out an investigation with the manufacturer.

The reply received from CCS indicated that another company had apparently purchased ladders manufactured by the ‘Qingdao Good Brother Marine Life-Saving Appliance Co. Ltd’. This company then copied the product and created their own (fake) certification for it. They have then sold the counterfeit products to customers who thought they were purchasing the genuine item.

It should be noted that genuine ladders from the ‘Qingdao Good Brother Marine Life-Saving Appliance Co. Ltd’ are fitted with a compliance plate as per Figure 3 below:
Figure 3 – Genuine pilot ladder compliance plate
Figure 3 – Genuine pilot ladder compliance plate
Figure 3 – Genuine pilot ladder compliance plate
Figure 3 – Genuine pilot ladder compliance plate
The compliance plate makes references to a ‘Type Approval Certificate’ issued by CCS. The response received from CCS also indicated that the fake ‘pilot ladder inspection certificate’ did not include various anti-counterfeiting features and marks of authenticity, which are included in genuine CSS marine product certificates / ‘type approval’ certificates.

CCS kindly provided AMSA with an example of a genuine CCS ‘Certificate of Marine Product’, which is depicted in Figure 4 below. Although the certificate pertains to a ‘copper alloy propeller’, the format and marks of authenticity are the same as would be provided for a ‘pilot ladder’ certificate.
Figure 4 – Excerpt of CCS Certificate of Marine Product
Figure 4 – Excerpt of CCS Certificate of Marine Product
Figure 4 – Excerpt of CCS Certificate of Marine Product
Figure 4 – Excerpt of CCS Certificate of Marine Product

Update

In the event that a marine pilot suspects or identifies a non-compliant pilot ladder (particularly anything which may be associated with suspected counterfeit manufacturing and/or certification), AMSA encourages you to inform AMSA, so that appropriate follow-up action can be taken as may be required.

Where a person suspects that the pilot transfer arrangement provided is unsafe, they should refuse to use the arrangement until it is made safe by the master and crew and report the circumstances to AMSA  and their employer. Where such situations occur, AMSA will endeavour to follow-up to determine the cause and actions taken. Where a ship is not calling into an Australian port, AMSA will follow up with the flag State.

AMSA would like to note that on both occasions, CCS have been very responsive to AMSA’s requests for assistance and launched an investigation the same day AMSA notified them of our concerns.

AMSA has been advised that as a result of this recent investigation, the ‘Qingdao Good Brother Marine Life-Saving Appliance Co. Ltd’ has taken legal action against the ‘Shenzhen Import & Export Company Ltd.’ for producing fake copies of their products.  

AMSA remains committed to addressing pilot complaints about non-compliant pilot transfer arrangements in order to enhance maritime safety wherever possible.

Please forward any queries about this PAN to coastal.pilotage@amsa.gov.au.

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