PLP ARD 001 Pilot ladder is a specialised rope ladder, used on board cargo vessel, cruise ship and yachts for the purposes of embarking and disembarking pilots. Design and construction of the ladders is tightly specified by international regulation under the Solas (Safety of Life at Sea), Med and USCG requirements.
The ladders are made by threading and fixing a series of hardwood, machined steps, onto two pairs of sisal / manila ropes, and binding each step to the ropes at 350mm intervals. At a maximum interval of 9 steps, the standard step is replaced by a spreader, which is an elongated version of the standard machined step, with a minimum length of 1.8 m. The spreader's function is to prevent the ladder from twisting in the prevailing weather conditions when in use.
The lowest four steps of the ladder are normally rubber steps , which is more resistant than hardwood, to the interaction between the host vessel and the pilot boats coming alongside.