“The Pilot Ladder Manual”, 2nd Edition by Kevin Vallance

by Kevin Vallance - published on 22 January 2024 1505 -

This publication details the rules, regulations and procedures that should be followed when preparing for pilot embarkation and disembarkation. It includes relevant excerpts from SOLAS regulations and IMO resolutions. The text is supported by explanatory photographs and diagrams that demonstrate good and bad practice.

This second edition supersedes both the basic and advanced editions of Pilot Ladder Manual.

This publication provides ship Masters and crew with a comprehensive understanding of the equipment, safety requirements and regulations necessary to conduct a proper risk assessment of pilot transfer operations.

Topics covered include the responsibilities of all personnel involved in pilot transfer, ladder construction and combination ladders, and examples of inadequate securing of a ladder. The guide explains the technical details of carrying out pilot transfer operations and includes important safety observations and comments. It includes text of SOLAS V, Regulation 23 Pilot Transfer Arrangements, IMO Resolution A.1045(27) on Pilot Transfer Arrangements, the UK Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers and the ISO 799 requirements for pilot ladders.


Throughout the world, at any time of day or night, in good or adverse weather conditions, a number of marine pilots will be in transit either to or from vessels that they have been engaged to safely navigate from one location to another. Each of these pilots will need to be safely embarked or disembarked from their vessel. There are a number of ways in which this transfer operation can be completed, each involving a certain degree of risk.

It is critical that all involved in pilot transfer are fully aware of the dangers that exist. Only through effective training and education can pilot transfer operations be made safer, irrespective of the transfer method used.

Pilot embarkation and disembarkation normally take place when the vessel is underway or alongside a berth, but may also take place when the vessel is at anchor. Possible transfer methods include by pilot boat, helicopter or directly from the shore. Transfer may be facilitated by the vessel's accommodation ladder, gangway or vehicle ramp, or possibly by crane basket. However, the most common method is by traditional wooden pilot ladder, and this method of transfer is the main focus of this publication.

Despite the best efforts of the International Maritime Pilots' Association (IMPA), various regional and national pilot associations, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), there continue to be far too many reports of poorly rigged or unsafe pilot ladders. In recent years, a significant number of pilots have been fatally or seriously injured as a direct result of accidents occurring during embarkation or disembarkation.

IMPA represents the international community of marine pilots and as such promotes effective safety outcomes in pilotage. Periodically, IMPA conducts safety campaigns which collate details of pilot transfer compliance in accordance with internationally agreed standards.

The aim of this publication is to remind all in the maritime industry of the vital importance of adhering to the rules and established procedures when preparing for embarkation and disembarkation of pilots.
Pilot Transfer Arrangements, COLREG's active marine pilot

A self-employed deep sea pilot for the North Sea, with an interest in pilot transfer arrangements and COLREG's
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