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Taiwanese Marine Pilot Dies After Fall From a Pilot Ladder

File image of pilot ladder
File image

Published Feb 23, 2022 9:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

[Brief] A Taiwanese marine pilot died after falling from a pilot ladder on Monday, according to local media reports. 

The pilot, identified as Zhong Chaochang, was climbing the ladder to join the small container feeder Blue Ocean at the port of Taichung, Taiwan on Monday afternoon. Conditions were rough - with force 7 winds reported - and he was knocked off the ladder by wave action, according to local outlet ET Today.

The crew of his pilot boat attempted to retrieve him from the water with a throw rope and a life buoy, but maneuvering was difficult in the rough conditions, and it took about 20 minutes to pull Zhong from the cold water. By the time he was brought back on board, he was unconscious; he was brought to shore for treatment but did not survive. Hypothermia was the suspected cause of death. 

Weather conditions at Taichung were rough over the weekend, and a bulker broke away from its berth and went adrift in the high winds. On Sunday, the day before his passing, Zhong helped lead the successful effort to refloat the vessel and tow it back to safety. 

The transfer from a moving pilot boat to a ladder on the side of a moving ship has inherent risk, and pilot ladder accidents are all too common. In an attempt to address pilot transfer safety issues, SOLAS V Regulation 23 provides specific measures for pilot ladder arrangements and equipment - but many marine pilots report that these rules are not always followed.