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Ship master and company convicted over pilot ladder failures

A ship’s master and the shipowner have been fined after failing to ensure pilot transfer arrangements complied with Australia’s Marine Order and the Navigation Act 2012.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP), on behalf of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), prosecuted the master of general cargo ship Boshi 58 (IMO 9369124) and Fu Ye Shipping following a serious accident involving a ship’s pilot on May 25th 2023. On that day a pilot attempting to embark was seriously injured when the pilot ladder broke during the transfer.

Both the Boshi 58’s master and the shipping company, Fu Ye Shipping, pled guilty. They were fined A$5,300 and A$32,000, respectively for failing to ensure pilot transfer arrangements complied with the relevant Act.

The CDPP established during court proceedings that the pilot ladder had not been checked regularly and also that it had been stored improperly, leading to degradation to such an extent that it became unsafe.

In June 2023 AAL Dampier Navigation Co Ltd was fined $30,500 for a similar offence.

AMSA Executive Director Operations Michael Drake said these were preventable accidents that placed the lives of seafarers at significant and unacceptable risk. “Pilots rely on a ship’s master and crew to properly maintain, stow and rig pilot ladders, and neglecting a pilot ladder can have deadly consequences.”

Drake highlighted common issues with pilot ladders that included instances where they have fallen short of accommodation ladders when used in combination, unsafe use of shackles and failure to regularly inspect, maintain and store pilot ladders appropriately.

2006-built, Panama-flagged, 8,621 gt Boshi 58 is owned by Fu Ye Shipping CO Ltd care of Boshi International Shipping Management Ltd of Kowloon, Hong Kong, China. It is entered with West P&I (claims team Hong Kong) on behalf of Fu Ye Shipping Co Ltd.