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UK Ship Pilot Dies in Transfer Accident

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

January 12, 2023

© Ralf Gosch / Adobe Stock

© Ralf Gosch / Adobe Stock

A U.K. ship pilot has died as result of an accident during a transfer from a pilot launch to a large oceangoing vessel on the east coast of Northern England.

The accident occurred on January 8, 2023 in the Humber Estuary, the UK Maritime Pilots’ Association (UK MPA) said in a statement. 

The U.K.'s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has opened a full investigation into the cause of the incident.

Killed in the incident was Capt. Francesco Galia, who served two decades as a pilot.

The tragedy highlights the daily risks and challenges of maritime pilots, according to the UK MPA, which represents approximately 500 ship pilots in the U.K.

"[Pilots] are responsible for safely navigating ships in and out of ports and harbors, often under complex and hazardous conditions, transferring from one vessel to another by nothing more than a rope ladder. This is always a risky procedure," UK MPA said.

"The movement of the pilot boat bringing the pilot alongside, the ship's motion and the potential for equipment failure, requires precise timing and coordination of the ship, the pilot vessel and the exact judgment of the pilot as they step from one moving platform to another moving platform, often in pitch darkness in the dead of night.

"We urge the maritime industry and regulatory authorities, once again, to prioritize safety and training with regard to the transfer of pilots and crew, and to invest in safe and reliable technologies and procedures to ensure that our maritime pilots and seafarers return me safe after every voyage."

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