What is the Polar Code?

South Georgia skyline

I have been asked quite a few questions on the Polar Code recently, and the Navigation Lights series of posts have been put to one side for a while whilst I put together some facts about the new code.

The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters, (The Polar Code), has been introduced by the IMO to safeguard both life and the environment. It therefore draws on both SOLAS and MARPOL for its authority. This post is a quick introduction to the code.

What is the purpose of the Polar Code?

The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters has been developed to Anchor in the snowsupplement the SOLAS and MARPOL  Conventions in order to increase the safety of ships’ operation and mitigate the impact on the people and environment in the remote, vulnerable and potentially harsh polar waters.

How was the Polar Code introduced?

The polar code was introduced by the IMO resolution  MEPC.264(68)

It is mandated by Chapter XIV – of SOLAS ‘Safety Measures for Ships Operating in Polar Waters’ and by additional chapters to the Annexes of MARPOL

Which ships have to comply with the Polar Code?

To all ships operating in polar waters

However, 

Ships constructed before 1 January 2017 shall meet the relevant requirements of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after the 1st of  January 2018.

It does not apply Ships owned or operated by a Contracting Government and used, for the time being, only in Government non-commercial service. However, ships owned or operated by a Contracting Government and used, for the time being, only in Government non-commercial service are encouraged to act in a manner consistent, so far as reasonable and practicable, with the code.

What are Polar Waters?

  • Antarctic: Further south than 60 South
  • Arctic:  Within a boundary defined in the code, this has a lowest latitude of 58 North off Greenland

Where can Information on the Polar Code be found?

Frozen sea and mountainsWhat does the Polar Code Cover?

This is best summarized by the chapter headings of its two sections.

Safety Measures

  • Chapter 1 -General
  • Chapter 2 – Polar Water Operation Manual (PWOM)
  • Chapter 3-Ship Structure
  • Chapter 4- Subdivision and Stability
  • Chapter 5- Watertight and Weathertight Integrity
  • Chapter 6-Machinery Installations
  • Chapter 7-Fire safety/Protection
  • Chapter 8-Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements
  • Chapter 9- Safety of Navigation
  • Chapter 10-Communication
  • Chapter 11- Voyage Planning
  • Chapter 12- Manning and Training

Pollution Prevention Measures

  • Chapter 1-Prevention of Pollution by Oil
  • Chapter 2-Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk
  • Chapter 3-Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form
  • Chapter 4- Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships
  • Chapter 5-Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships

PolarCodeClick to search for the Polar Code on Amazon>

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