Ship master and company convicted over pilot ladder failures


The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP), on behalf of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), has successfully prosecuted a ship’s master and shipping company, following a serious accident involving a ship’s mooring master in 2023. 

On 25 May 2023, a mooring master providing pilot services on the Panama-flagged general cargo ship Boshi 58 was seriously injured when the pilot ladder broke during the transfer.  

Both the Boshi 58’s master and the shipping company, Fu Ye Shipping, have pled guilty and were fined $5,300 and $32,000, respectively for failing to ensure pilot transfer arrangements complied with the relevant Marine Order and the Navigation Act 2012. 

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

This is the second successful prosecution for the CDPP and AMSA on a pilot ladder failure which resulted in injury to the pilot. 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.” 

Mr Drake also highlighted common issues with pilot ladders including 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.  

“If you own, operate or are the master of a ship, the safety of everyone using the pilot ladder is in your responsibility.” 

Last year, AMSA updated its marine notice on safe pilot transfer arrangements, which can be found here: 

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