Singaporean Pilot Dies in Vessel Transfer Accident

singapore strait anchorage
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Published Feb 12, 2023 1:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

[Brief] A harbor pilot with Singapore's PSA Marine lost his life in a man-overboard accident Saturday while working near the Southern Islands. 

Just before 0300 hours on Saturday, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) safety control center received an alert that a harbor pilot had gone overboard while transferring from a tugboat to a PSA Marine launch. The pilot was wearing a lifejacket, but was not immediately pulled from the water.

The MPA, Police Coast Guard and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) all deployed assets to start a search and rescue operation. The MPA also sent divers to the scene for an underwater search, and it alerted nearby marine traffic to keep an eye for a man-overboard. 

At about 1130 hours, the pilot's body was recovered, and it was taken to the Police Coast Guard's Brani Island base station. 

An investigation into the cause of the fatality is under way. Ship-to-ship transfers are inherently hazardous, and accidents during pilot transfer operations are a persistent risk of the profession - particularly for transfers involving pilot ladders.

PSA Marine's 300-strong team of pilots provides most harbor pilotage for the port, handling about about 500 vessel movements in and out of Singapore's bustling harbor every day.