Pilot Ladders: An Old Rust Bucket?



No. This is the USS Howard,s Pilot ladder!

Recently, the Los Angeles Jacobsen pilot assigned to the USS Howard, a guided missile destroyer stationed in San Diego, experienced the surprise of his life. Upon approaching the ship, noting the poor state of repair of the ladder hanging over the side, the pilot refused to board and requested that it be replaced.

After the swapping out the bad ladder, the pilot began his climb but as he got to  the very top rung, disaster struck and the ladder suddenly dropped about 2 feet. The knots tying it to the deck had failed!

Losing his footing, the Pilot tried to hold onto the ladder with one hand until finally his grip let go and he fell approximately 18 feet into the sea. Fortunately it was daylight and the conditions were calm and he was recovered very rapidly by the cutter crew.

A US Navy spokesperson stated:

The US Navy recognizes that there is inherent risk associated with operations at sea, and in particular, at-sea personnel transfers.  We take all due precautions in preparation for arriving in port, including formal briefs to mitigate risk to the lowest level possible.  An investigation into this incident is in progress.

From:  g-Captain blog.    Photo: Jacobsen pilots

2 Responses to “Pilot Ladders: An Old Rust Bucket?”

September 26th, 2012 at 08:06

This is horrible! If the navy is committing such mistakes then you can imagine what obtains in the merchant navy! God save us!


William Bushey
December 2nd, 2015 at 08:18

Mr. Smith: The “merchant navy” as you erroneously refer to us, has better cared for and rigged pilot ladders on our worst day than this, or USN in general. As Cargo Boatswain on an MSC CLF ship, I oversee this operation as well and the day to day maintenance as part of my job. Having served on 18 different MSC ships in the last 18 years, from AB to Bosun, I can attest to MSC being MILES ahead of USN in care and maintenance of this, as well as all else.


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