Article

Anti-Entrapment Pilot Boat


by Captain Francesco Aiello - Honorary Member Fedepiloti ROMA, Italy - published on 21 April 2020 2533

photos, graphics and article by Captain Francesco Aiello

Let me introduce myself, I’m Captain Francesco Aiello. I currently live in my hometown of Sorrento (NA) Italy. For over thirty years I was a harbor pilot in Gaeta, which lies to the North of Naples. On many occasions, I have seen remarkable difficulties and dangerous situations that affect marine pilots during the transfer from the pilot boat to the ship and vice versa.

This is not always executed in the safest way. Pilots are involved in numerous accidents, some of which can be fatal.

This is mainly due to failing to observe the rules dictated by the IMO on the correct use of pilot ladders. However, even when respecting all of the standards laid down by SOLAS regarding the pilot ladder, accidents occur very frequently. The ladder can get trapped between the hulls of the ship and pilot boat. This happens when the pilot boat rises in the water, pins the ladder against the ship and then pulls it down.
This eventuality is also foreseen by the IMO which prescribes that the last four steps are not made of wood but of rubber.



The entrapment problem has not yet been solved and has prompted me to seek a solution. My very simple idea (patented) has been internationally recognized as innovative.
My attention was focused on the pilot boat that has undergone a remarkable evolution over the years. Today there are pilot boats built with increasingly modern criteria and equipped with increasingly advanced equipment and instruments. But however modern and efficient the current pilot boats may be, they always risk trapping the pilot ladder and ultimately causing injuries to the pilot.


My innovation focuses on the main deck. It is designed with four protruding platforms, two on each side : two placed toward the bow and the other two placed to the rear forming a single body with the main deck. When the pilot boat is alongside the ship, the protrusions of each side create a recess in which the pilot ladder, even if dropped too low in the water, does not run the risk of being crushed or dragged. This recess has a wide space between the two protrusions where the pilot ladder is completely free when dropped, because the sides of the ship and the pilot boat are separated.

Despite the ship’s often high speed, the pilot boat can approach making sure that the pilot ladder is kept within the recess between the two protrusions until the pilot is ready to make the transfer. This also makes the job of the coxswain less stressful as they do not have to worry about entangling the pilot ladder and causing harm to their crew.

The attached images clearly highlight the recess. This innovation was the subject of a feasibility study carried out by a naval engineer and professor at the Federico II University of Naples. The prototype was built by a shipyard which has subsequently ceased its activity, however I am currently in contact with other shipyards interested in the project.


What do you think about the solution? Had you heard about it? Leave us your comments!
Editor's note:
Opinion pieces reflect the personal opinion of individual authors. They do not allow any conclusions to be drawn about a prevailing opinion in the respective editorial department. Opinion pieces might be deliberately formulated in a pronounced or even explicit tone and may contain biased arguments. They might be intended to polarise and stimulate discussion. In this, they deliberately differ from the factual articles you typically find on this platform, written to present facts and opinions in as balanced a manner as possible.

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FA
Francesco Aiello Federazione Italiana Piloti dei Porti, Italy
on 26 April 2020, 17:12 UTC

Thank you for your comments. I agree with you. I will continue to pursue my idea as I think it will be useful in avoiding many incidents.
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BG
Berat Geyik Dekas Pilotage Inc., Turkey
on 26 April 2020, 09:44 UTC

Very Good innovation. Fore and aft extension creates gap in order to avoid pilot trapping. Further More, I Believe that Existing pilot boat might be renovated accordingly If this recommend by IMO.
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RH
René Hartung Lotsenbrüderschaft NOK II Kiel / Lübeck / Flensburg, Germany
on 22 April 2020, 21:14 UTC

Hi Mr Aiello,
thank you for your explanatory words. It sure is an interesting project.
Greetings from Kiel,
René
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FA
Francesco Aiello Federazione Italiana Piloti dei Porti, Italy
on 22 April 2020, 16:03 UTC

Thank you for both of your comments. Here are some answers to your questions.
1) This modification was created to avoid the entrapment of the pilot ladder and only concerns the main deck. Obviously the boarding platform should be arranged to guarantee the safety of the pilot. The distance between the pilot ladder and the side of the boat is around 70-80 cm, which is about an arm's length.
2) This inconvenience also occurs with standard pilot boats. This is something that I have thought about and I have a possible solution to this problem which I am working on.
3) To avoid losing some of the friction between the pilot boat and ship, the protrusions should be properly fitted with special fenders.
4) While the pilot boat is running parallel to the ship, always keeping the ladder within the recess, there is no risk of it tilting, even when boarding at speed.
Finally, this pilot boat is a prototype so any suggestions to improve the concept are warmly welcomed and considered. Thank you again for your questions.
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RH
René Hartung Lotsenbrüderschaft NOK II Kiel / Lübeck / Flensburg, Germany
on 21 April 2020, 15:03 UTC

Good points @Michael Nicholson.
I would be worried to step in between the vessel and the launch. Looking forward to hear of the designer‘s thoughts on that.
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MN
Michael Nicholson Shipmove Ltd., United Kingdom
on 21 April 2020, 10:23 UTC

It is certainly innovative, and solves a major problem, but I would be interested to see how it performs as I can see a few potential issues. Perhaps the designer Captain Francesco Aiello, could respond ????
1) It puts the ladder farther away from a safe footing thereby requiring a reach unless the inboard rails are positioned correctly.
2) The protruberances are more likley to catch on ships vertical rubbing strips, banding or similar.
3) Some of the suction effect, which increase the friction between boat and ship may be lost, leading to a more lively movement of the boat.
4) Could the suction (interraction) between boat and hull, lead to a tilting of the pilot boat away from the ship when boarding at speed?
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