Tag Archives: pilot boarding

The Pilot ladders and accommodation The Pilot ladder-Accommodation ladder combination

Pilot boat bowA handy revision guide to pilot boarding specifications

This series of posts based on SOLAS V continues to explore some of the details behind Regulation 23, Pilot Transfer arrangements. This time exploring the specifications within Resolution A.1045(27) covering combined accommodation ladder/Pilot ladder arrangements.

Why would a combined arrangement be required?

In accordance with SOLAS V an accommodation ladder shall be used in conjunction with the pilot ladder, or other equally safe and convenient means, whenever the distance from the surface of the water to the point of access to the ship is more than 9 m.

The IMO Resolution A.1045(27) contains the specializations for pilot transfer arrangements. This is available online from the IMO. Click here to download>

Accommodation ladders, together with any suspension arrangements or attachments
fitted and intended for use in accordance with this recommendation, should be to the
satisfaction of the flag state.


  • The length of the accommodation ladder should be sufficient to ensure that its angle of slope does not exceed 45°
  • In ships with large draft ranges, several pilot ladder hanging positions may be provided, resulting in lesser angles of slope
  • The lower platform of the accommodation ladder should be in a horizontal position
    and secured to the ship’s side when in use
  • Intermediate platforms, if fitted, should be self-levelling
  • Treads and steps of the accommodation ladder should be so designed that an adequate and safe foothold is given at the operative angles.


  • The accommodation ladder should be at least 600 mm in width.
    The lower platform should be a minimum of 5m above sea level
  • The pilot ladder should be rigged immediately adjacent to the lower platform of the
    accommodation ladder and the upper end should extend at least 2 m above the lower platform
  • The horizontal distance between the pilot ladder and the lower platform should be between 0.1 and 0.2 m


  • The ladder and platform should be equipped on both sides with stanchions and rigid
    handrails, but if handropes are used they should be tight and properly secured
  • The vertical space between the handrail or handrope and the stringers of the ladder should be securely fenced.
  • If a trapdoor is fitted in the lower platform to allow access from and to the pilot
    ladder, the aperture should not be less than 750 mm x 750 mm
  • The trapdoor should open upwards and be secured either flat on the embarkation platform or against the rails at the aft end or outboard side of the platform and should not form part of the handholds

Really Handy Books Revision Guides for Kindle

gormleytankersternClick here to learn more about the guides>

Tagged , ,

Pilot ladders- a quick guide to their specifications


The last post covered the pilot boarding arrangements required by SOLAS V, this post delves a bit deeper into the detail with a summary of some of the specifications and dimensions of pilot ladders.

Where can the requirements for pilot ladders be found?

The IMO Resolution A.1045(27) contains the specializations for pilot ladders. This is available online from the IMO. Click here to download>

ISO 799:2004, Ships and marine technology – Pilot ladders

SOLAS also requires compliance with this International Standards Orginisation standard.

“ISO 799:2004 specifies requirements for a ship’s pilot ladder which is provided to enable a maritime pilot to embark and disembark a ship safely along a vertical portion of the ship’s hull. It is applicable to merchant ships which embark and disembark maritime pilots with the ship underway. National maritime safety administrations are urged to accept ladders complying with ISO 799:2004 on their ships, as complying fully with the requirements of the 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), as amended.” ISO Website

Click here for a summary of the standard on the ISO website> 

Click here to buy ISO 799:2004 on Amazon>

What are the requirements of Pilot Ladder steps?


  • If made of hardwood, they should be made in one piece, free of knots
  • If made of material other than hardwood, they should be of equivalent strength, stiffness and durability to the satisfaction of the Administration
  • The four lowest steps may be of rubber of sufficient strength and stiffness or other material to the satisfaction of the Administration
  • They should have an efficient non-slip surface


  • They should be not less than 400 mm between the side ropes, 115 mm wide and 25 mm in depth, excluding any non-slip device or grooving
  • They should be equally spaced not less than 310 mm or more than 350 mm apart
  • They should be secured in such a manner that each will remain horizontal

Replacement steps

  • No pilot ladder should have more than two replacement steps which are secured in position by a method different from that used in the original construction of the ladder
  •  Any steps so secured should be replaced as soon as reasonably practicable by steps secured in position by the method used in the original construction of the pilot ladder
  •  When any replacement step is secured to the side ropes of the pilot ladder by means of grooves in the sides of the step, such grooves should be in the longer sides of the step


  • Pilot ladders with more than five steps should have spreader steps not less than 1.8 m long provided at such intervals as will prevent the pilot ladder from twisting
  • The lowest spreader step should be the fifth step from the bottom of the ladder and the interval between any spreader step and the next should not exceed nine steps

What are the requirements for pilot ladder ropes and lines?

Retrieval line

  • When a retrieval line is considered necessary, the line should be fastened at or above the last spreader step and should lead forward. The retrieval line should not hinder the pilot nor obstruct the safe approach of the pilot boat
  • A permanent marking should be provided at regular intervals  throughout the length of the ladder in order to assist in the rigging of the ladder to the required height


  • The side ropes of the pilot ladder should consist of two uncovered ropes not less than 18 mm in diameter on each side and should be continuous, with no joints and have a breaking strength of at least 24 Kilo Newtons per side rope
  •  The two side ropes should each consist of one continuous length of rope, the midpoint half-length being located on a thimble large enough to accommodate at least two passes of side rope
  • Side ropes should be made of manila or other material of equivalent strength, durability, elongation characteristics and grip which has been protected against  degradation and is satisfactory to the Administration
  •  Each pair of side ropes should be secured together both above and below each step with a mechanical clamping device properly designed for this purpose, or seizing method with step fixtures (chocks or widgets), which holds each step level when the ladder is hanging freely. The preferred method is seizing


Tagged , ,

Pilot boarding- The SOLAS requirements

Navsregs>SOLAS>SOLAS V>Pilot Boarding

​This  exploration of SOLAS V will not attempt to follow any order. Bypassing all the earlier Regulations, I will jump straight into Regulation 23, pilot transfer arrangements.

Southampton Pilot Boat-Navsregs

Regulation 23 – Pilot Transfer Arrangements- A Handy Revision Guide

This post contains some of the key facts from SOLAS covering pilot boarding arrangements, and includes information on how and where a pilot ladder should be rigged.

Which ships must comply with the pilot boarding regulations?

Ships engaged on voyages in the course of which pilots may be employed.

Equipment and arrangements for pilot transfer which are provided on ships before 1 July 2012 shall at least comply with the requirements of regulations in SOLAS 1974, in force prior to that date.

What are the requirements of pilot transfer arrangements?


  • All arrangements used for pilot transfer shall efficiently fulfil their purpose of enabling pilots to embark and disembark safely
  • The appliances shall be kept clean, properly maintained and stowed , and shall be regularly inspected
  • The appliances shall be used solely for the embarkation and disembarkation of personnel.
  • An accommodation ladder shall be used in conjunction with the pilot ladder, or other equally safe and convenient means, whenever the distance from the surface of the water to the point of access to the ship is more than 9 m.

Note: Mechanical pilot hoists shall not be used.

The rigging of pilot transfer arrangements

  • The rigging of the pilot transfer arrangements, and the embarkation of a pilot shall be supervised by a responsible officer having means of communication with the bridge.
  • The responsible officer who shall also arrange for the escort of the pilot by a safe route to and from the  bridge.
  • Personnel engaged in rigging and operating any mechanical equipment shall be instructed in the safe procedures to be adopted, and the equipment shall be tested prior to use.

Certification, marking and record keeping

  •  A pilot ladder shall be certified by the manufacturer as complying with SOLAS, or with an international standard acceptable to the Organization
  • All pilot ladders shall be clearly identified with tags or other permanent marking so as to enable identification of each appliance
  • A record shall be kept on the ship as to the date an identified ladder is placed into service and any repairs conducted

Pilot boat bow

Where should the pilot transfer arrangements be located?

Arrangements should enable the pilot to embark and disembark safely on either side of the ship.

Pilot ladders

Maximum 9 metres- the distance to remember

  • A pilot ladder must require a  climb of not less than 1.5 m and not more than 9 m above the surface of the water
  • It must be  is clear of any possible discharges from the ship
  • It  is within the parallel body length of the ship and, as far as is practicable, within the mid-ship half length of the ship
  • Each step must rest firmly against the ship’s side. Where constructional features would prevent this, special arrangements shall, to the satisfaction of the Administration, be made to ensure that persons are able to embark and disembark safely
  • The single length of pilot ladder is capable of reaching the water and allowance is made for all conditions of loading and trim of the ship, and for an adverse list of 15°

When accommodation ladders are used in conjunction with pilot ladders

  •  The accommodation ladder shall be sited leading aft
  •  Means shall be provided to secure the lower platform of the accommodation ladder firmly to the ship’s side
  • The lower end of the accommodation ladder is to be within within the parallel body length of the ship and, as far as is practicable, within the mid-ship half length
  • The lower end of the accommodation ladder is to be  clear of all discharges
  • Means shall be provided to secure the pilot ladder and manropes to the ship’s side at a point of nominally 1.5 m above the bottom platform of the accommodation ladder
  • When there is a trapdoor in the bottom platform, the pilot ladder and man ropes shall be rigged through the trapdoor  extending above the platform to the height of the handrail

What are the requirements for access to the ship’s deck?

See MSC 1428 for poster

  • There must be safe, convenient and unobstructed passage between the head of the pilot ladder, or of any accommodation ladder or other appliance, and the ship’s deck.
  • When a gateway in the rails or bulwark is used, adequate handholds shall be provided
  • When a bulwark ladder is used, two handhold stanchions rigidly secured to the ship’s structure at or near their bases and at higher points shall be fitted
  • A bulwark ladder shall be securely attached to the ship to prevent overturning

Shipside doors

Shipside doors used for pilot transfer shall not open outwards.

Equipment required at the pilot boarding location

The following associated equipment shall be kept at hand ready for immediate use when persons are being transferred:

  • Two man-ropes of not less than 28 mm and not more than 32 mm in diameter. The man-ropes shall be fixed at the rope end to the ring plate fixed on deck and shall be ready for use when required by the pilot.
  • A lifebuoy equipped with a self-igniting light
  • A heaving line
  •  When required, stanchions and bulwark ladders
  • Adequate lighting to illuminate the transfer arrangements overside and the position on deck where a person embarks or disembarks.

Some sources of useful information

A Really Handy Book to Learn the Collision Regulations

Amongst Navsbooks study guides for Kindle readers is this handy guide to revise the COLREGS.

Click here to download a sample from Amazon> 

Tagged , ,