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california legislation > AB 907

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Date of Hearing: April 11, 2011

Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair
AB 907 (Ma) - As Amended: April 14, 2011

: Harbors and ports: Pilot vessel guiding safety

SUMMARY : Establishes new procedures for the reporting of ladder
or hoist equipment safety issues. Specifically, this bill :

1)Authorizes a port agent to review the initial report of a
suspected ladder or hoist safety standard violation, and any
information gathered as part of the preliminary investigation.
If the port agent, in his or her discretion, concludes that
the ladder or hoist presents a potential danger to future
users, the port agent is required to report the suspected
safety standard violation to organizations of pilots in
expected next ports of call, and may similarly report to any
national or international organization concerned with pilot
ladder or pilot hoist safety.

2)Deletes obsolete references to inland pilots.

3)Deletes obsolete rate increase provisions.


1)Establishes the Board of Pilot Commissioners (Board) for the
Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun, and Monterey, to
license and regulate maritime pilots who guide vessels
entering or leaving those bays. The seven members of the
Board are appointed by the Governor with the consent of the
Senate. Prescribes pilotage rates for vessels and requires
vessels to pay a specified rate of bar pilotage through the
Golden Gate Bridge and into or out of the bays of San
Francisco, San Pablo, Suisun, and Monterey, as well as the
inland ports of West Sacramento and Stockton.

2)Imposes a surcharge on pilotage fees to be deposited in the
Board's Special Fund and used to support the Board. Imposes
other surcharges for pilot trainee programs, licensed pilots
continuing education programs, maintaining pilot boats, and
for pilot pension plans. Requires the Board to adopt
standards and a training program for pilots and pilot trainees

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and requires that any surcharge money collected be deposited
in separate and specific trainee and pilot funds.

3)Requires the Board, whenever suspected safety standard
violations concerning pilot hoists, pilot ladders, or the
proper rigging of pilot hoists or pilot ladders are reported,
to assign an investigator to personally inspect the equipment
for its compliance with specified safety standards.

4)Establishes a process for the reporting of unsafe equipment
and safety incidences.


COMMENTS : Bar pilots and inland pilots are responsible for
steering an arriving vessel through the Golden Gate Bridge of
San Francisco Bay, the bay waters, and adjoining navigable
waters, which include San Pablo Bay, Monterey Bay, Suisun Bay,
the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, and its tributaries.
When a vessel approaches the "SF" buoy 12 miles west of the
Golden Gate Bridge, a bar pilot boards the ship and takes
navigational control. It becomes the bar pilot's responsibility
to guide the ship to its berth. The bar pilots provide service
to all types of vessels, from 100-foot tugs to 1000-foot
supertankers. The bar pilots move more than 9,000 vessels a
year, working closely with shipping agencies, tug companies, and
the U.S Coast Guard to deliver cargo and passengers safely and
on time. Their scope of services is unique in that it includes
bar, bay, and inland river pilotage. Inland pilots serve the
tributaries of the bay; however, the last inland pilot recently
retired and thus references to them are proposed for deletion.

Vessels navigating in and around San Francisco Bay require a
ship captain that has local knowledge of the water, shores,
currents, tides and winds to safely pilot the ships across the
bar and into the bay. Because bar pilots are required to
commandeer a vessel into and out of the bay, they are oftentimes
required to climb from their transport boat onto the vessel
during choppy currents using a pilot ladder and hoist. In some
situations, the equipment is not in a state of good repair.

Current law requires the executive director of the Board or a
commission investigator to inspect pilot ladders and hoists for
compliance with the relevant safety standards of the United
States Coast Guard (USCG) and the International Maritime

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Organization. If, in the preliminary report, the equipment is
found to be in violation, or likely violation, of safety
standards, the executive director must immediately alert the
USCG. A written report must be submitted to the incident review
committee of the Board, which must remain confidential until it
is reported to the Board. The committee must then report its
findings and recommendations to the Board.

According to the author's office, the problem is that the
investigation, findings, and recommendations relative to an
unsafe ladder or hoist are unlikely to be completed before the
vessel with the unsafe ladder passes on to future ports of call.
This puts the safety of the pilots servicing those future ports
at risk.

Under current law, the USCG has no responsibility to inform the
next port of the reported safety issue. This bill will protect
pilots at other ports by requiring the port agent to report
suspected safety standard violations related to a pilot ladder
or hoist equipment to the pilot organizations at the next
expected port of call.

Related bill : AB 1025 (Skinner) of 2011, a similar bill
pertaining to safety equipment procedures. AB 1025 passed out
of the Assembly Transportation Committee with a vote of 12-0.
Eventually, AB 1025 and this bill may need to be reconciled.

AB 656 (Huber) of 2011, would sunset the Board on January 1,
2013. If AB 656 is enacted, would potentially subject the Board
to the review by the Joint Sunset Review Committee before the
actual sunset. AB 656 is scheduled to be heard in this
committee at a later date.



San Francisco Bar Pilots Association


None on file

Analysis Prepared by
: Ed Imai / TRANS. / (916) 319-2093

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