PORT Authority of New South Wales is to introduce a standardised approach to accepting marine pilot ladder arrangements across all ports in the state, starting on 1 October.

A recently released harbour master instruction sheet (HMI 23-03 E) said the substandard condition of pilot ladders and associated equipment, inadequate maintenance regimes, incorrect rigging and a lack of awareness has been established as major contributing factors to several significant incidents during pilot transfers.

PANSW chief operating officer John Finch said the port authority’s marine pilots are central to the safe and efficient movement of commercial vessels in the state’s ports, and pilot ladder arrangements are safety critical and ensuring these arrangements are safe and compliant is a key focus area for the port authority.

“There are a number of industry standards and guidance notes in force on pilot ladder transfer arrangements,” Mr Finch said.

“Port Authority’s recently issued harbour master instruction brings together the various existing guidelines and reinforces age criteria relating to pilot ladders and man ropes.”

The minimum safety criteria outlined in the harbour master instruction includes a maximum age for pilot ladders is 30 months from the date of manufacture, unless the ladder has been subjected to a strength test at regular intervals.

Also, the maximum age for the side ropes (also know n as man ropes), is 12 months form the date of manufacture, with no exceptions.

The harbour master instruction also mandates that vessel operators provide ship-specific guidance to crew on storage, maintenance, inspection and rigging of pilot ladders.

Also, all pilot ladders and side ropes are to be used only for marine transfers, and original certificates from the pilot manufacturer should be onboard the ship.