A harbor pilot suffered serious injuries after falling from a defective pilot ladder on a cargo ship in Australia. The ship operator and the master were fined for breaching safety regulations in a rare prosecution by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
The incident occurred on August 24, 2022, when the Cyprus-flagged cargo ship AAL Dampier was leaving the Port of Fremantle. The pilot was disembarking from the 488-foot vessel, which was owned by AAL Dampier Navigation Co Ltd, when the ropes on the pilot ladder snapped and he plunged more than 20 feet onto the deck of the pilot boat. He was rushed to a hospital for treatment.
AMSA inspectors and investigators boarded the ship and found that the ladder and its ropes were in shockingly bad condition, likely due to improper storage and maintenance. They seized a portion of the ropes as evidence, and decided to prosecute the company and the master for endangering human life.
On May 23, 2023, the Perth Magistrates Court convicted AAL Dampier Navigation Co of failing to ensure pilot transfer arrangements were in accordance with the relevant regulations. The company was fined AU $30,500 (US$20,000). The master of the ship also pleaded guilty to two offenses: one for failing to ensure the safe disembarkation of the pilot, and another for taking an unseaworthy vessel to sea. He was fined a total of AU $5,500 (US $3,600).
AMSA Executive Director of Operations Michael Drake said that marine pilots perform a critical and high-risk job, and it is imperative that vessels meet safety standards to prevent serious injury. He hoped that the conviction would deter other vessels from making the same mistake.
“AMSA is a tough-but-fair regulator, and we will not hesitate to take action to prevent danger to human life, whether it be a pilot or mariner,” said Drake.
We at the Herd Law Firm are proud to fight for maritime workers and passengers in all types of personal injury claims, and never waver in our commitment to help these maritime workers and their families when they are injured.
Master and company convicted after pilot ladder injury | AMSA Media Centre