NEW guidelines on marine pilot transfer arrangements will be implemented across Australian ports following an endorsement from Ports Australia.

Several pilot transfer incidents in recent years prompted the development of Technical Guideline 03-23.

Endorsement from the Ports Australia board of directors sets in motion a gradual rollout of the guidelines, which aim to improve the safety of pilot ladder transfers.

The guidelines, developed by the Association of Resource Companies, Ship Operators, Ports & Terminals (ARCSOPT), bring together existing circulars from the International Maritime Organization and International Organization for Standardization.

It also builds on additional collaborative work across Australian ports and pilotage service providers.

Ports Australia CEO Mike Gallacher said the guidelines were also developed in consultation with Ports Australia’s Port Operations and Innovation Working Group.

“This work was initiated in response to several incidents and near-misses in recent years, caused by inadequate and unsafe vessel pilot transfer systems; and is now being progressively adopted and implemented across Australia’s ports,” Mr Gallacher said.

Under the new safety criteria, pilot ladders will have a maximum age of 30 months from manufacture, unless the ladder has been subjected to the ladder and step attachment strength test.

Manropes are given a maximum age of 12 months from the date of manufacture; and pilot ladders, manropes and lifting gear should have genuine maker’s certification maintained onboard the vessel.

The safety criteria also cover ship-specific guidance for storing, maintaining and securing ladders.

Ports Australia said the guidelines will be reviewed and updated periodically, and as necessary, to ensure it reflects practical safety approaches in response to the current environment.