Every pilot ladder should have certain markings and certificates to go along with it. Let’s have a look at a random pilot ladder on board and the paperwork that belongs to it:
SOLAS 2.4. All pilot ladders used for pilot transfer shall be clearly identified with tags or other permanent marking so as to enable identification of each appliance for the purposes of survey, inspection and record keeping. A record shall be kept on the ship as to the date the identified ladder is placed into service and any repairs effected.
For this example we use the guidelines ISO 799-1:2019 to explain the various Markings and notations. Every pilot ladder should have a serial number marked as per ISO-799 section 8 as follows: The bottom of the top step and bottom of the lowest spreader step of the ladder shall be marked with:
- The name and the address of the manufacturer
- The Manufacturer’s model designation
- “ISO 799-1” and “SOLAS”
- the year of assembly or reassembly of the ladder
- identification of the approved maritime safety administration, along with any approval indications required by that administration
- where used, identification of an approved organization acting on behalf of the maritime safety administration.
- If a replacement step is used, the words “REPLACEMENT STEP ONLY” shall be used as well.
This is for instance a PTR Goliath ladder marked with all of the above items, except for the fact that ISO 799:2004 is still mentioned. This standard has now been replaced by ISO-799-1:2019
The name tag plate on this ladder displays a few important items that can be cross referenced with the certificate: Type, Model, Length, Production date, as well as the serial number (Prod.No) and the approval standard.
There are 3 logo’s on the top of this plate, which are important in this respect:
- The DNV-GL logo, the classification society that type approves this ladder, as well as the Manufacturing Company.
- The PTR Holland logo, which is the logo of the Manufacturing Company
- The Steering wheel, marked with MED, as well as the number 0575. The symbol and “MED” stands for Marine Equipment Directive 4.49, the EU standard for pilot ladders for all EU flagged vessels. The number indicates the EU designated number of the “Notified Body” which is DNV GL in this case.
The certificate that goes along with this ladder shows the following items:
- Statement that the ladder complies with MED 2014/90/EU
- Description: Type of equipment, and the MED category (4.49)
- Type: Manufacturers Type “Goliath”
- Serial No. “3156773” ( Corresponding with the serial number on the ladder)
- Ladder Length(m) ( Corresponding with the length on the ladder)
- Date of manufacture: 07/03/2018. ( Corresponding with the date on the ladder) **
- Manufacturer: ( Corresponding with the manufacturer on the ladder)
- Manufacturer Adress
- Vessel name
- The standards, resolutions and regulations to which the ladder complies: In this case ISO-799, Solas and IMO res 1045(27)
- The EC-Type-Examination certificate issued for this type of ladder: in this case its number is MEDB00002T9 ( Corresponding with the number on the ladder) , issued by DNV GL (number 0575). This certificate goes by the name of : “EC-Type Examination Certificate (Module B)”. ( The manufacturer of this ladder also issues a copy of this document with the ladder)
- The Quality System Certificate No. is the certificate issued by classification society DNV GL about the Quality System of the Manufacturer. This certificate goes by the name of : “QS-Certificate of Assessment – EC (Module D)”. ( The manufacturer of this ladder also issues a copy of this document with the ladder)
- The Steering Wheel symbol of MED 4.49: same as on the ladder (see above)
- The Logo of the classification society.
- The signature on behalf of the manufacturer
- Registration QR code: The manufacturer of these ladders uses blockchain technology to keep track of the ladders produced. On the latest ladders, the steel plate on the ladder also shows the same QR code. This allows inspectors to easily scan the pilot ladder and check online if all specifications are correct. ( see below)
** In this case the ladder is over 30 months old, and therefore a certificate of load testing should be present as well.
Apart from this certificate, there should be a record of repairs, and a record of maintenance of the pilot ladders onboard.
Something is not right here: A fake certificate
The following ladder was presented in december 2020, when the pilot boarded a vessel:
The ladder in question is badly rigged, and appears to be in a very bad state. Much to the surprise of the pilot, he was presented with the following documentation of this pilot ladder by the master of the ship:
These documents indicate that the pilot ladder in question was only 4 months old at the time. There are references made to SOLAS, IMO 1045 and ISO 799-1:2019. Also there are “official” stamps by the China Classification Society (CCS) on these documents.
In a similar case in 2019, the Australian Marine Pilots Institute (AMPI) asked CCS for a copy of a real (Pilot Ladder) Certificate and they were presented with this document:
The format of this certificate shows that the presented “Certificate of marine Product” onboard was probably a fake certificate, issued with a very old, used or second-hand pilot ladder.