BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 907
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          Date of Hearing:   April 11, 2011

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

           EXISTING LAW  :  

          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.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown

           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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