Pilot Boarding Arrangements - All vessels are expected to comply with latest SOLAS Regulations, IMO Conventions and ISO Standards

1. MARINERS ARE HEREBY ADVISED that, in a recent Marine Accident Investigation Branch Safety Digest, it was stated that we as an industry ask a Pilot to step from a moving boat onto a rope ladder and climb up the side of a ship. This is an action that demands the highest standards of safety, without compromise.1

1UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch Safety Digest 1/2022, p.3 (MAIB Safety Digest 1/2022 (publishing.service.gov.uk))

2.  The Port of Milford Haven takes the safety of its staff extremely seriously but is increasingly concerned by the level of incidents involving unsafe boarding and landing arrangements that our pilots and boat crews encounter [In 2021 there were 20 incidents and to date in 2022 the figure stands at over 12% of incidents recorded].

3.  The Port therefore expects all vessels to present a safe and compliant Pilot Boarding Arrangement to best ensure the safety of our pilots, pilot boat crews, and both pilot boat and the visiting vessel itself.

4.  To best facilitate this, the following common fault areas are highlighted.

       • Unacceptable: (so-called) trap doors that do not have a continuous pilot ladder that runs 2 metres above the platform and is properly secured 1.5 metres above the platform.

       • Unacceptable: Pilot ladders and accommodation ladders that do not lay flat alongside the vessels hull over the complete length of the ladder. The use of magnetic securing devices may be of use here to ensure compliance and is welcomed.

       • A retrieval line, sometimes referred to as “the trip line”, if fitted, to be attached at or above the bottom spreader, leading forward and not to the bottom of the ladder.

       • In heavy weather large sea state conditions, the underside of the lowest point of the accommodation ladder, will need to be at least 7 metres from the waterline to allow the Milford Haven pilot boat, which has a large air draft, to safely approach below the combination ladder rig.

       • The lower platform of the accommodation ladder is to be horizontal when rigged.

       • Pilot ladders to be as close to midships as possible in order that the area immediately aft of the pilot boarding arrangements allows the pilot boat to lay alongside the parallel body of the hull. Non-parallel areas of the hull are unsafe and unacceptable.

       • Where belting is fitted, a gap of at least 6 metres is required for safe pilot boat approach and not just the width of a pilot ladder spreader.

5.  All Pilot Ladders are expected to be checked frequently as per IMO Resolution A.1045(27), ISO 799-1:2019 which requires a ladder and step attachment strength test and certification to take place at intervals not more than 30 months apart.

6.  In accordance with “good safety practice” historic, or so called “Grandfather rights” will not be accepted from vessels calling at the Port. It is expected that pilot boarding arrangements will be corrected / modified as soon as practicable to comply with latest internationally recognised updates or amendments to safety standards. Grace periods, when needed, will be no more than one drydock / repair cycle period (30 months) after the latest safety standards have been rolled out.

7.  Notwithstanding this, Pilots and pilot boats may refuse to service vessels whose pilot transfer arrangements they consider to be unsafe.

8.  A copy of the Milford Haven “Pilot Boarding Arrangement Requirements” booklet and the IMO/IMPA ‘Required Boarding Arrangements for Pilots’ Wheelhouse Poster are available on the Milford Haven website within the Marine Services section: www.mhpa.co.uk/our-services/marine-services



Port of Milford Haven
Gorsewood Drive
Milford Haven
SA73 3EP

Tel: 01646 696100
Email: enquiries@mhpa.co.uk