On March 23rd, the United Kingdom Maritime Pilots Association issued the following notice to its members:
Recent non-compliant trap door arrangements have come to our attention.
Last Year in Southampton, Pilots engaged the Harbour Master to issue a Notice Mariners relating to Non-Compliant Trap Door Arrangement’s, through a proactive dialogue and consultation NYK Line with Class approval modified their 12 ships trap door arrangements.
Recently a container vessel that arrived at the Port of London, the pilots were presented with a non-compliant trapdoor arrangement which they refused to board. The vessel remained at anchor as no suitable arrangement for safe boarding could be presented; the vessel sailed without berthing to its next port of call in Europe.
Following this incident and through dialogue with the vessels owners a safety bulletin was issued to all vessels within the fleet who also had this type of arrangement giving details of remedial action required to be taken.
In another recent incident a vessel arrived on the Forth, again with a non-compliant trapdoor arrangement. In this instance alternate arrangements were made with the vessel suffering a lengthy delay on departure to allow for ballasting down to present an agreed complaint arrangement.
As a result, the terminal operator involved has prohibited any similar non-compliant vessels with this arrangement and given strict instructions to its vetting surveyors to look out for this non-compliancy in the future.
The UKMPA Chairman Captain Mike Morris gave the following statement:
“I am delighted that the firm stance taken by our members with the full backing of their ports and terminal operators has resulted in this positive outcome.
We at the UKMPA will continue to work with all UK stakeholders including the UK Harbour Masters Association, British Ports Association, UK Major ports group, Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and DFT to raise awareness and promote best practice with regard to all aspects of safe Pilot transfer.
In the last few years we have seen several fatalities worldwide and one involving this type of dangerous non-compliant trap-door arrangement. We look forward to the continued efforts of all stakeholders and a time when these types of arrangements are confined to history”.