Embarkation Gateway Handhold Arrangements

The United States Coast Guard (USCG), through Safety Alert 04-22, addressed the importance of verifying the correct arrangement of handholds in embarkation gate arrangements on board merchant vessels.

C22029 | 20 April 2022

NOTICE TO
Ship Owners/ Managers/ Operators | Surveyors/Auditors

Following a casualty involving a fall from a pilot ladder where the handholds in the gate arrangement onboard the vessel terminated without being rigidly secured to the vessel structure, the USCG, issued Safety Alert 04-22, addressing the importance of verifying the correct arrangement of handholds in embarkation gate arrangements on board merchant vessels.

In the mentioned case, the termination left a gap in the handholds at the transition point at the head of the pilot ladder, where an embarking person might reach to pull themselves onto the vessel.

Figure 1: Handholds that terminate above the vessel structure.

The Coast Guard observed that the abrupt termination of the handholds above the vessel structure appeared to be a modification that was completed to accommodate the length of the pilot ladder spreader during deployment and retrieval of the pilot ladder. The modification made it possible to retrieve the pilot ladder without having to lift the spreader up and over the vessel’s railings.

Figure 2: Gap in handholds appears to accommodate spreader.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), through Resolution A.1045(27), indicates, among others, that each handhold in a gateway arrangement should be rigidly secured to the ship’s structure at or near its base.

Figure 3: Handholds rigidly secured to the vessel structure at their base.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that flag state administrations, Classification Societies, PSC Officers, and shipboard personnel:

  • Ensure familiarity with applicable requirements pertaining to handholds in gateway embarkation arrangements aboard merchant vessels;
  • Visually examine handholds in gateway embarkation arrangements for gaps, specifically at the lower terminations, and
  • Initiate rectification and issue outstanding conditions to meet regulatory intent for any non-conformities discovered.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently published a series of standards aimed at improving pilot ladder safety. These standards supplement existing IMO recommendations and requirements for pilot ladders. Vessel owners and operators, shipboard personnel, and system designers are highly encouraged to review and comply with these standards.

  • ISO 799-1:2019 Ships and marine technology — Pilot ladders — Part 1: Design and specification
  • ISO 799-2: 2021 Ships and marine technology — Pilot ladders — Part 2: Maintenance, use, survey, and inspection
  • ISO 799-3:2022 Ships and marine technology — Pilot ladders — Part 3: Attachments and associated equipment

The International Maritime Organization, along with the International Maritime Pilots Association, and in accordance with SOLAS Regulation V/23 & IMO Resolution A.1045(27), published a “Required Boarding Arrangements for Pilot” poster, indicating all important aspects that need to be paid attention to.

Act now

Ship Owners / Managers / Operators of vessels engaged in Wider Caribbean Region areas are encouraged to take into consideration the above guidelines which have been withdrawn since the 21st of April 2022 and to ensure compliance with the applicable requirements of the Ballast Water Management Convention.

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