IMO Guidelines for Ships Operating in Polar Waters
Ice poses serious danger to ships. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Guidelines seek to minimize incidents and to prevent loss of life and property during ship operations in ice-covered waters.
The Guidelines prescribe that:
- Ships be operated within the design limitations and not outside of the worst intended conditions.
- Every ship carry, on board, an operating manual. The operating manual should include principal particulars of the ship, guidelines about normal operations and guidelines for risk management. Polar Class ships' operating manuals should include supplementary information for ice hazards and freezing temperatures. Training manuals should contain a summary of the guidelines for ships operating in ice-covered waters and information on ice recognition, navigation in ice, and escorted operations.
On board instruction and operation of the ship’s evacuation, fire, and damage control appliances and systems should include procedures necessary for emergencies in ice-covered waters. Evacuation drill scenarios should include abandonment into the water, onto the ice, or a combination of the two. Fire drills should vary to simulate emergency conditions for different areas of the ship. Fire and damage control drills should have an emphasis on the areas that the standard procedure has changed due to operations in ice-covered waters and low temperatures. The master should ensure that sufficient personal and group survival kits are available, are in full working order, and are ready for immediate use. The master should also keep spare personal survival equipment on board. Group survival kits should be inspected annually at the beginning of each operating season.
- On ships travelling in ice-covered waters, all officers and crew should be made familiar with cold weather survival. The ship’s deck and engine officers should be trained in ship operations in ice-covered waters. When needed, Ice Navigators should be provided.
- Adequate number of first-aid kits and equipment, with contents suitable for cold climates, should be on board.
For more detailed information, see the IMO Guidelines for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (PDF Version, 688 KB). *
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