What is Pilotage?

Core and maintenance of pilot ladders and hoists :
Before including the pilot ladder and hoist in a maintenance schedule an officer should cheek that both comply with the following regulations :
SOLAS 1974, chapter V, safety of navigation, regulation 17, The Merchant Shipping (Pilot ladders and hoists) Regulation 1987.

In particular the following points should be considered when making an initial inspection of the pilot ladders :

  1. The loader must be in one continuous length. The practice of having a short ladder for the loaded passage, which was then shackled to another length to make a long ladder for the light ship passage is not permitted.
  2. The steps must be made of hardwood or other material of equivalent strength and the four lowest steps may be of rubber or similar material.
  3. The steps must be in one piece and if made of wood must be knot free. the almost have an non-slip surface and the dimensions should be not less than 480mm long, 115mm wide, and 25mm in depth, non slip grooving is not included in these dimensions.
  4. All the steps should be the same distance apart, the equal spacing should not be less than 300mm and not more than 380 mm and they must be secured in such a manner as to remain horizontal.
  5. Cheek the ladder for replacement steps as no ladder is permitted to have more than two replacement steps which are secured in any way that differs from the original method it the replacement steps are secured to the side popes by grooves, such grooves must be in the long side of the steps.
  6. Spreaders, which should be of the same material as the rest of the ladder and between 1.8 and 2 metres long, should be at such interval as to prevent the ladder from twisting. However, the fifth step from the bottom should be a spreader and the intervals b/w any spreaders must not exceed nine steps.
  7. The side ropes must consist of two continuous manila ropes on each side with a diameter of not less than 18mm.

Any ladder which does not comply with SOLAS standards must be replaced as soon as possible the regulations also certain artain safety provisions regarding the rigging use, and access from pilot ladders and the crew should be instructed on the following procedures.

  1. Two man ropes of not less than 20mm in diameter should be provided securely bagged to the ship.
  2. A safety line with a harness, a lifebuoy with a light and heaving line should be kept near at hand ready for use. Do not attach the heaving line to the lifebuoy.
  3. The ladder should be rigged.
    • Clear of any discharges
    • Clear of the finer lines of the ship and as near midships as possible but not under any overhanging parts of the ship’s hull structure.
    • So that each step is firmly against the ships side.
  4. The person using the ladder should not climb less than 1.5m and not more than 9m. If the distance from the sea level to the point of access to the ship is more than 9m , an accommodation ladder must be rigged so that the pilot can transfer to the accommodation ladder. The pilot ladder’s upper end must extend at lealest 2m above the accommodation ladder’s lower platform. The ladder should be rigged as near to the mid length of the ship as is practicable, it should lead oft, the lower end should rest firmly against the ships side and the falls should be bowsed in.
  5. The area should be well lighted.
  6. The deck area should be free of grease.
  7. A boat rope should be kept at hand
  8. The ladder should not be secured to the side rails but to cleats or eye pads on deck.
  9. Safe access must be provided from the head of the pilot or accommodation ladder to the deck. If access is by means of a gateway in the rails or bulwark adequate handhold shall be provided. It access is by means of a bulwark ladder, it must be securely attached to the bulwark rail or landing platform and to the deck. Two handhold stanchoins, which are not part of the bulwark ladder, must be rigidly secured to the ships structure. Each station must be at least 40mm in diameter and be secured to the ship at its base and at a higher point; it must extend at least 1.2m above the top of the bulwark, and the stations should be spaced b/w 0.7 and 0.8 m apart.
  10. The rigging of ladders, and the actual embarkation or disembarkation, must be supervised by a responsible officer,
  11. It must be possible for the ladder to be pigged either side of the ship. Thus if the ship is carrying deck cargo, means must be provided to enable the pilot to board on either side. Each pilot ladder must be kept clean and in good order and must only be used in pilot operations or by officials and other persons while a ship is arriving at or leaving a port.

About the author

Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.

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