The Bahamas Maritime Authority introduces inspection campaign for pilot transfer arrangements

The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) once again demonstrates its commitment to seafarer safety by being the first registry to instigate a Concentrated Inspection Campaign (CIC) for pilot transfer arrangements. It will continue to run until the end of 2021.

The BMA has shared the results of the International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA) Safety Campaign with its fleet since 2015. Noting a consistent level of non-compliant pilot boarding arrangements across the industry and the related tragic deaths, The BMA has implemented a range of steps to improve safety. In January, Safety Alert 2021-01 was expanded to highlight common defects and why they are non-compliant as well as to share the IMPA survey results.

Subsequently the Authority published an Information Notice in March 2021 to make vessels under the Bahamian Flag aware of the SOLAS requirements with regards to equipment and arrangements for pilot transfer. This included the pilot ladder construction and maintenance requirements under the ISO 799-1:2019 standard. To further emphasise the importance of the issue, The BMA produced a training presentation for its Authorised Flag Inspectors worldwide to ensure that they were specifically aware of these requirements and regulations.

To underpin the new initiatives, The BMA has decided to undertake a CIC to run for the second half of 2021. The related Technical Alert raises the root causes of many of these cases, namely: use of non-compliant pilot and combination ladders; unauthorised modifications to deck access; defective winches and reels; and incorrect ladder securing. Not only will inspectors be asked to complete a checklist as to the compliance of equipment, they will also require evidence that the ship has conducted at least one training session to increase crew awareness of correct procedures. To aid inspectors, the checklist includes photographs demonstrating examples of both good and unacceptable practice.

Nick Dowden, Marine Investigator at The BMA (pictured), said: “We have supported IMPA’s Safety Campaign for some time but realised that we needed to take positive action to improve the situation within our fleet. We are continually striving to make our ships safer and improve the lives of the seafarers who work on them. By insisting that our ships follow the SOLAS requirements to the letter, we hope to mitigate the difficulties experienced by marine pilots as they embark and disembark. In fact, we are hoping that other flags follow suit and add this safety issue to their own inspection criteria.”

The BMA will review the outcome of the CIC and publish the findings at a later date.

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