Marine Pilot Boarding Arrangements

Pilot Transfer Arrangements

Pilot transfer at Newcastle is carried out by two methods, either by helicopter (80%) or by pilot cutter (20%). Some vessels are not suitable for helicopter transfer. Due to weather conditions, planned helicopter pilot transfers may change to pilot cutter at any time. For a vessel to use either method of transfer, the vessel must comply with the requirements detailed below. All vessels engaged in pilot transfer should monitor VHF channel 06 for instructions from the pilot. It should be noted that any vessel that has defective pilot boarding arrangements will be declined pilotage and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority will be advised of any deficiencies.

Pilot Cutter Transfer

When transfer occurs by pilot cutter the following should be complied with:

  • The pilot ladder to be constructed and rigged in accordance with SOLAS, IMO and Marine Notice 2015/19 requirements and IMPA recommendations (see SOLAS Chapter V, Reg 23). The ladder should be clean, properly fitted with spreaders, well clear of all discharges and outlets and any shipboard fittings that may foul the pilot cutter. The ladder should be rigged with the bottom step 2 metres above the water.
  • Where a combination ladder arrangement is required, the accommodation ladder must be secured to the ship’s side, leading aft. The lower horizontal platform should be at sufficient height above the water to prevent the pilot cutter or pilot becoming fouled during the transfer. Manropes are also to be provided for combination arrangements.
  • Two (2) clean manila manropes of not less than 28mm diameter and not more than 32mm diameter are to be securely made fast to the ship. The manropes should be the same length as the ladder.
  • Where the ladder is rigged over a bulwark, two (2) stanchions are to be securely fitted to the top of the bulwark, one on each side of the ladder, with steps provided from the bulwark top to the deck.
  • A heaving line is to be provided for the pilot’s bag.
  • At night the ladder is to be well illuminated, the light pointing forward.
  • Tripping lines for ladder retrieval should not be fitted.
  • A ship’s officer should be in attendance at all times and have radio communications to the bridge. All appropriate safety equipment should be available at the ladder.
  • The Master or another officer on the bridge should be monitoring the transfer from the bridge wing.
  • The pilot will normally liaise with the Master to ensure the correct ship heading for safe transfer.
  • Normal ship speed for pilot transfer is approximately 9 knots.
  • The requirements of Marine Notice 2015/19 should be complied with (see link below).
  • For more detail, see the attached IMPA diagram (see link below).

Helicopter Transfer

  • Vessel to comply with the helicopter compliance check list (see link below).
  • Vessel to comply with Marine Notice 2016/09 (see link below).
  • Vessel to comply with Marine Order Part 57 (Helicopter Operations) (see link below).
  • Maximum weight of helicopter is 1361kgs (Hughes MD500). The weight of the helicopter and skid contact area on the hatch lid result in point loading on the hatch less than 200kg/m². This hatch lid loading is minimal and far below allowable design maximum loadings of the hatch lid. If in any doubt the Master should seek clarification from ship’s drawings, Owners or Class Society.
  • Landing hatch to be properly marked and identified.
  • Vessels that are fitted with timber stanchions to have at least 17.5m clear between stanchions with no other obstructions present.
  • At least 20m clear all around when helicopter is on the landing hatch.
  • Any ship cranes to be in the stowed position and secured in the cradle and hooks lashed and secured.
  • No loose objects to be in the vicinity of the landing hatch.
  • Crew members are not permitted on the landing hatch during helicopter operations (see link below).
  • Emergency fire party to be on standby upwind of landing hatch with all appropriate safety equipment available and fire main pressurized. Emergency rescue party to be ready at the rescue boat.
  • Safe access provided from the landing hatch to the deck, including properly secured ladder and hand holds or stanchions as appropriate.
  • The pilot will normally call the vessel prior to landing to advise the Master of the correct ship heading for safe transfer, to confirm the landing hatch number and that all emergency crews are on standby and the vessel is ready to receive the helicopter.
  • In poor visibility and at night, all deck lights to be switched on.

NB: Vessels that are fitted with cranes and timber stanchions utilising helicopter transfer and have not previously called at Newcastle, normally the first pilot transfer will take place by pilot cutter until the pilot has assessed the vessel for helicopter compliance.

Pilot Cutter transfer links:

IMPA pilot ladder transfer diagram

AMSA Marine Notice 2015-19 - Use of Pilot Ladders

IMPA and ICS Pilot transfer document

AMSA399 Using Pilot Ladders

Photo of Newcastle Pilot vessel

Helicopter transfer links:

Newcastle helicopter compliance checklist

AMSA Marine Notice 2016/09 Vessel-Helicopter Operations

Marine Order 57 - AMSA

Helicopter danger area diagram

Timber stanchion separation diagram

Photo of Newcastle helicopter