The Coast Guard Office of Investigations and Analysis recently issued Marine Safety Alert 04-22 (available here). The Alert reminds vessel owners that it is crucial to verify and correct the handholds for pilot ladder arrangements on commercial ships.
The section of the pilot ladder arrangement where the ladder terminates onto the deck, often through stanchions, is called the “embarkation gate.” The Coast Guard reports investigating a marine casualty in which a pilot fell from the ladder where the handholds in the gate terminated without being rigidly secured to the vessel’s structure. This caused a dangerous gap in the pilot’s handholds at the top of the ladder.
The Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 2004 regulations and IMO Resolution A.1045 (27) clarified that each handhold in the embarkation gate should be rigidly secured to the ship’s structure near to the base, thereby preventing perilous handhold gaps.
In its Alert, the Coast Guard strongly recommends that vessel owners and their regulators should:
· Ensure familiarity with handhold requirements for embarkations gates
· Visually examine handholds in embarkation gates for gaps—especially at lower terminations
· Rectify conditions to meet regulatory intent
The work of Marine Pilots, while crucial to the economy, can be dangerous. However, vessel owners should take reasonable steps to prevent harm to the pilots and their support crew. Failing to do so can have lethal results.
Mariner Law, PLLC is well-familiar with marine pilot injuries and claims under the Jones Act, LHWCA, unseaworthiness doctrine, and maintenance and cure. Pilot injuries are all too often career-ending if not fatal. If you or a loved one was hurt or tragically killed while working as a pilot, it is imperative to contact an experienced admiralty lawyer as soon as possible. A maritime lawyer can help you investigate the root cause of the incident and chart your path to legal recovery. Contact (253) 600-2531 for a free consultation with an offshore lawyer.