Ensuring Safety at Sea: Australia’s Firm Stance on Pilot Transfer Accidents

In a decisive move to safeguard the lives of seafarers, the Australia Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has demonstrated its commitment to enforcing maritime safety regulations. Following a disturbing incident involving the failure of a pilot ladder on the Panama-flagged cargo ship Boshi 58, which led to serious injuries to a pilot, AMSA has secured the conviction of both the vessel’s master and its managing company, Fe Ye Shipping. This marks the second such conviction in less than a year, underlining a troubling trend in maritime operations that AMSA is attempting to address.

The case of the Boshi 58, a general cargo ship with a deadweight of 12,000 tons, managed by Hong Kong-based companies and built in 2006, highlights the grave consequences of neglecting safety protocols. On May 25, 2023, a pilot transfer operation turned perilous when the ship’s ladder broke, causing significant injuries to the pilot involved. Sadly, these incidents are not isolated, but part of a concerning pattern of accidents that, according to AMSA, are entirely preventable.

AMSA’s Executive Director Operations, Michael Drake, emphasized the critical importance of diligent maintenance, stowing, and rigging of pilot ladders. The authority has identified common lapses in safety practices, including the use of inadequately-sized ladders, improper combinations of ladders, unsafe usage of shackles, and a lack of regular inspections and maintenance. Such oversights not only endanger lives but also violate established safety standards.

The legal proceedings revealed that the Boshi 58‘s ladder had been neither regularly checked nor properly stored, leading to its deterioration. Both the ship’s master and Fe Ye Shipping acknowledged their failure to comply with regulations, resulting in fines of A$5,300 (US$3,450) and A$32,000 (US$20,850) respectively. These penalties are an important reminder of the legal and moral responsibilities which shipping companies have towards ensuring the safety of pilot transfers.

This incident is similar to case in June 2023 involving the Cyprus-flagged cargo ship AAL Dampier. The ship was departing the Port of Fremantle, Australia, in 2022 when another pilot ladder failure occurred, leading to severe injuries. The condition of the ladder in this instance was described as “shocking” by AMSA inspectors, resulting in fines for the master, and the shipping company for inadequate storage and inspections.

Through these prosecutions, AMSA is sending a clear message about the non-negotiable nature of maritime safety. The organization has not only taken legal action, but has also issued marine notices and safety bulletins on safe pilot transfer arrangements, demonstrating its proactive approach to preventing future incidents. These efforts reflect AMSA’s unwavering dedication to the welfare of crew members and the integrity of maritime operations.

The convictions of the Boshi 58 and AAL Dampier cases are sobering reminders of the potential consequences of neglecting safety protocols. They underscore the vital importance of adhering to maritime safety standards to prevent maritime incidents, which can have devastating impacts on human lives. As the maritime industry continues to navigate the complexities of global shipping, the role of regulatory bodies like AMSA in enforcing safety and accountability cannot be overstated.

We at the Herd Law Firm are proud to fight for seamen, maritime workers and passengers in all types of personal injury claims. As maritime personal injury attorneys located in northwest Houston, we never waver in our commitment to help these maritime workers and their families when they are injured.


Image Credit: MySeaTime.com

Let’s Discuss Your Case

If you or someone that you know has contracted COVID-19 while on board a cruise ship, you may be entitled to compensation. If so, call the law offices of the Herd Law Firm, PLLC for a risk-free evaluation of your potential case.

Call 713-955-3699 now!