Progress report on pilot ladder reform

You may recall that we reported in our June 2023 NZ Pilot Magazine on the progress that has been made at IMO to address the issues surrounding pilot ladders (see article “Baby Steps”).

To recap, in November 2022 at the 106th meeting of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 106), it was agreed that there was a need to review SOLAS V/23 and its associated instruments in light of the varying interpretation of the requirements and the inconsistent standards of manufacture, maintenance, and rigging of pilot ladders that have contributed to serious incidents globally in recent times.

The MSC instructed the IMO Sub-committee on Navigational Communications and Search & Rescue (NCSR) to begin the work. 

In May 2023 the NCSR duly established a scope for the project – to combine all existing regulation (SOLAS V/23) and associated instruments (IMO Resolutions and Circulars) into a single standard to be referenced in SOLAS V/23 such that it is mandatory. 

They set a timeframe for drafting the standard by June 2024 such that it could presented to the Maritime Safety Committee for approval in December 2024 and presented for adoption in June 2025 at MSC 109. 

They also established a working correspondence group led by China’s administration and including Maritime New Zealand, the Bahamas administration and IMPA. The work of this group is well underway, and a first draft of a new comprehensive, mandatory standard is currently being circulated amongst the correspondence group members.

The new mandatory performance standard for pilot ladders will include sections on:

  1. Design, manufacture, and construction of ladders, combination arrangements, securing arrangements, hull, shell openings, doors, platforms, access to the deck, and all associated equipment.
  2. Rigging of all arrangements and associated equipment.
  3. Installation of pilot ladder winch reels with respect to points 1 & 2.
  4. Readiness and onboard inspection/maintenance of pilot ladder arrangements.
  5. Training of all personnel involved in points 2 & 4.
  6. Approval, certification and survey of all pilot ladders and associated equipment.

NZMPA President Paul James is actively involved with those Maritime New Zealand representatives who are part of the NCSR correspondence group. So far, the project is on track for completion as planned in June 2024.

If the planned schedule is maintained, it is hoped that the new standard will enter into force for all ships in January 2028.

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