The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is developing a mandatory Polar Code in order to set standards for ship construction and operation in polar waters, according to INTERTANKO’s Technical Director, Dragos Rauta, who was at IMO this week.
The Polar Code will be based on an existing set of IMO Guidelines, however, developing statutory language for polar waters is proving to be a difficult project and a date for its completion is not easy to predict.
The Polar Code will be structured as:
a) Polar Ship Certification and
b) Polar Ship Operational Manual
Agreement has yet to be reached on how to interlink the provisions of the new Polar Code to other relevant IMO Conventions and regulations.
With regard to ship construction, it is suggested that ships navigating in polar waters would fall into different categories depending on their ice-strengthening and ability to sail in ice-covered waters. Ships trading in polar waters with ice concentration >10% and at risk of contact with both first-year ice and multi-year ice, will be strengthened according to Polar Class Rules of IACS.
It is proposed that the Polar Water Operation Manual (PWOM) will contain general and specific information on ships’ particulars relevant to the environmental conditions in the Polar Waters and associated risks. Among others, PWOM should include:
- a ship’s manoeuvring characteristics
- the lower and upper ice waterline
- an indication of safe speeds in ice-covered waters
- indication of safe distance in a convoy (in order to give advice on the minimum admissible distance of the escorting ship according to the ship’s speed and ice concentration in the channel)
- minimum design temperatures for operation of machinery and ship essential systems
- communication and navigational equipment limitations in high latitude and alternatives
- procedures for the operational maintenance of fire safety systems below design temperatures and icing
- procedures for the operational maintenance of lifesaving appliances and evacuation means under design temperatures and icing
- procedures for the operational maintenance of anchoring, mooring and towing under the design temperature and icing
- procedures to mitigate the pollution in case of spill or unintended discharge, etc.
Source: INTERTANKO, February 22, 2012; Image: USCG