Polar Code updated raws nearer

Apr 01 2014

In February, the IMO agreed on training requirements for seafarers on board ships in Arctic regions.

Thus, the IMO is follows the plan for finalising the Polar Code, which is being developed to enhance safety of navigation in Polar Regions, the Danish Maritime Authority said.

At the first session of the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW), the IMO took important steps towards finalising the Polar Code.

 As a result, draft specific training requirements for seafarers on board ships navigating polar areas are available.

The requirements will be incorporated in the Polar Code.

The new requirements mean that Masters and navigating officers must have special training in order to navigate ships in ice, while engineer officers and the rest of the crew must be trained in how to react in crisis situations, such as rescue operations. In addition, more comprehensive training requirements will be introduced for all seafarers on board tankers engaged on voyages in icy waters.

IMO is developing a draft mandatory International Code of safety for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code), to cover the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters.

The work is being co-ordinated by the subcommittee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC) - formerly the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE).

At its first session (20th to 24th January 2014), the SDC sub-committee agreed in principle to the draft text of the mandatory Polar Code and also agreed in principle to proposed draft amendments to IMO’s safety and pollution prevention treaties to make it mandatory.

A draft new chapter XIV ‘Safety measures for ships operating in polar waters’, of SOLAS, to make the Code (Introduction and part I-A) mandatory was agreed in principle, for forwarding to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which meets in May, for consideration.

Also, proposed draft amendments to MARPOL, to make the Polar Code (Introduction and part II-A) mandatory under Annexes I (prevention of pollution by oil), II (noxious liquid substances), IV (sewage) and V (garbage) were also agreed, in principle, for forwarding to the MEPC, which was due to meet at the end of March/beginning of April.

The draft chapter of the Polar Code relating to training and manning was referred to the sub-committee on Human Element Training and Watch keeping (HTW), while the draft chapters on fire protection/safety and lifesaving appliances was referred to the subcommittee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE), which also met in March.

The draft chapters on Safety of navigation and Communication will be referred to the sub-committee on Navigation, Communication and Search and Rescue (NCSR) in June/July.

All three Sub-Committees will report on their work to the MSC and MEPC.


Once ratified, the Code will require ships intending to operating in Antarctic and Arctic to apply for a Polar Ship Certificate, which would classify the vessel as Category A ship - ships designed for operation in polar waters at least in medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions; Category B ship – a ship not included in category A, designed for operation in polar waters in at least thin first year ice, which may include old ice inclusions; or Category C ship - a ship designed to  operate in open water or in ice conditions less severe than those included in Categories A and B.

Before issuing a certificate, an assessment would be undertaken, taking into account the anticipated range of operating conditions and hazards the ship may encounter in the polar waters. The assessment would include information on identified operational limitations, and plans, or procedures, or additional safety equipment necessary to mitigate incidents with potential safety or environmental consequences.

Ships will also need to carry a Polar Water Operational manual, to provide the owner, operator, Master and crew with sufficient information regarding the ship’s operational capabilities and limitations in order to support their decision-making process.

The chapters in the Code each set out goals and functional requirements, to include those covering ship structure; stability and subdivision; watertight and weathertight integrity; machinery installations; operational safety; fire safety/protection; life-saving appliances and arrangements; safety of navigation; communications; voyage planning; manning and  training; prevention of oil pollution; prevention of pollution form from noxious liquid substances from ships; prevention of pollution by sewage from ships; and prevention of pollution by discharge of garbage from ships.

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