Tag Archives: The Polar Code

The Polar Code and a bit more-an index of posts

Navsregs>The Polar Code

A happy seal

The introduction of the Polar Code has brought in with it new regulations, new certificates, and new documentation. Here is an index of Polar Code Related posts so far  on this blog.

A Really Handy Guide to Ship Certification-Part 4

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Is Ice Class the same as Ice Category?

As a follow on from the posts on the Polar Code here is a quick guide to Ice Class and Category.Sea ice

Polar Class and Ice Category Compared

Polar class, sometimes referred to as ‘Ice class’ is a Classification Society designation, whilst Ice Category is a IMO Polar Code designation.

What is Polar Class?

The Unified Requirements for Polar Class ships apply to ships constructed of steel and intended for independent navigation in ice-infested polar waters

Click here for IACS unified requirements>

What are the Polar Class descriptions?

These are based on WMO Sea Ice Nomenclature.

  • 1: Year-round operation in all polar waters
  • 2: Year-round operation in moderate multi-year ice conditions
  • 3:Year-round operation in second-year ice which may include multiyear ice inclusions
  • 4: Year-round operation in thick first-year ice which may include old ice inclusions
  • 5: Year-round operation in medium first-year ice which may include old ice inclusions
  • 6: Summer/Autumn operation in medium first-year ice which may include old ice inclusions
  • 7: Summer/Autumn operation in thin first-year ice which may include old ice inclusions

What are the Ice Categories?

  • Category A ship: A ship designed for operation in polar waters in at least 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.
  • 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.

Some Ice Definitions

Ice free watersSea Ice pattern

This means that no ice is present. If ice of any kind is present this term will not be used.

Open water

A large area of freely navigable water in which sea ice is present in concentrations less than 1/10. No ice of land origin is present.

Ice of land origin

means ice formed on land or in an ice shelf, found floating in water.

Sea ice

Any form of ice found at sea which has originated from the freezing of sea water.

First-year ice

Sea ice of not more than one winter growth developing from young ice. It has  a thickness from 0.3 m to 2.0 m.

Medium first-year ice

First-year ice of 70 cm to 120 cm thickness.

Old ice

Sea ice which has survived at least one summer’s melt; typical thickness up to 3 m or more. It is subdivided into residual first-year ice, second-year ice and multi-year ice.

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The Safety of Navigation and the Polar Code

Iceberg through a bridge window

A handy summary of the safety of Navigation elements of the polar code.

Another part of the Polar Code looked at in this blog, and another chance to share some ice photos.

Navigation in the polar regions present some challenges, and the Polar code contains some important requirements to meet those challenges.

What part of the Polar Code covers the safety of Navigation?

Chapter 9

What are the requirements for Navigational equipment functionality?

The navigational equipment and systems shall be:

  • Designed
  • Constructed
  • Installed

-to retain their functionality under the expected environmental conditions in the area of operation.

Systems for providing reference headings and position fixing shall be suitable for the intended areas.

What additional navigational equipment is required under the Polar Code?

Detecting the ice

  • Ships shall have means of receiving and displaying current information on ice

    Sea ice forming at South Georgia

    conditions in the area of operation

  • Ships shall have the ability to visually detect ice when operating in darkness
  • Two remotely rotatable, narrow-beam search lights controllable from the bridge to provide lighting over an arc of 360 degrees, or other means to visually detect ice. This is not required by vessels  solely operating in areas with 24 hours daylight


  • Either two independent echo-sounding devices or one echo-sounding device with two separate independent transducers. This applies to ships constructed on or after 1 January 2017 that are  ice strengthened in accordance with chapter 3 of the code
  • Two non-magnetic means to determine and display their heading.Both means shall be independent and shall be connected to the ship’s main and emergency source of power
  • Ships proceeding to latitudes over 80 degrees shall be fitted with at least one GNSS compass or equivalent, which shall be connected to the ship’s main and emergency source of power
  • For ships operating in areas, and during periods, where ice accretion is likely to occur, means to prevent the accumulation of ice on antennas required for navigation and communication
  • For ice strengthened ships  where equipment required by SOLAS chapter V or the Polar Code  have sensors that project below the hull, such sensors shall be protected against ice.

Rock formation at Hystviken

Working with icebreakers

  • Ships involved in operations with an icebreaker escort shall be equipped with a manually initiated flashing red light visible from astern to indicate when the ship is stopped.

This light shall have a range of visibility of at least two nautical miles, and the horizontal and vertical arcs of visibility shall conform to the stern light specifications in the COLREGS.

What are the Polar Code requirements regarding bridge design?

Ships shall comply with SOLAS regulation V/, irrespective of the date of construction and the size and, depending on the bridge configuration, a clear view astern.

In category A and B ships constructed on or after 1 January 2017, the bridge wings shall be enclosed or designed to protect navigational equipment and operating personnel.

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What is contained on the Polar Ship Certificate?


Navsregs>Ship Certification>

Certifying that a vessel is safe for Polar Waters

This new series of posts on the Polar Code continues with a look at the contents of the Polar Ship Certificate. A look that also gives me an excuse to enjoy using some of my favourite photographs. 

Which ships have to carry a valid Polar Ship Certificate?

Every ship to which the Code applies

Click here for information on which ships these are>

When is a Polar Ship Certificate issued?

After an initial or renewal survey.

For category C cargo ships however, if the result of and assessment is that no additional equipment or structural modification is required to comply with the Code, the Certificate may be issued based upon documented verification that the ship complies with all relevant requirements. An on board survey will be undertaken at the next scheduled survey.

Polar Ship Certificate validity, survey dates and endorsements shall be harmonized
with the relevant SOLAS certificates as  required by HSSC.

What should accompany the certificate?

A Record of Equipment for the Polar Ship Certificate.

What does the Polar Ship Certificate Certify?

  • That the ship has been surveyed in accordance with the applicable safety-relatedSea beginning to freeze
    provisions of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters.
  • That the survey showed that the structure, equipment, fittings, radio station arrangements, and materials of the ship and the condition thereof are in all respects satisfactory and that the ship complies with the relevant provisions of the Code

What is contained on the Polar Ship Certificate?

  • Particulars of ship
    • Name of ship
    • Distinctive number or letters
    • Port of registry
    • Gross tonnage
    • IMO number
  • Category A/B/C (see below)
  • Table of ice class against drafts fore and aft (maximum and minimum)
  • Ship type: tanker/passenger ship/other
  • Ship restricted to operate in ice free waters/open waters/other ice conditions
  • Ship intended to operate in low air temperature: Yes/No
  • Polar Service Temperature: ……..°C/not applicable
  • Maximum expected time of rescue


  • A statement that the ship was/was not subject to alternative design and arrangements.
  • A statement that a Document of approval of alternative design and arrangements for structure, machinery and electrical installations/fire protection/life-saving appliances and arrangements is/is not appended to this Certificate.
  • Operational limitations
    • Ice conditions
    • Temperature
    • High latitudesSmall iceberg

What is a polar code  Category A/B/C ship?

  • Category A ship means a ship designed for operation in polar waters in at least medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions
  • Category B ship means 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
  • Category C ship means a ship designed to operate in open water or in ice conditions
    less severe than those included in categories A and B


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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


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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