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IMO adopts Polar Code


The Code covers design, construction, equipment, operational, training, SAR and environmental protection matters.

Adopted at the Maritime Safety Committee's (MSC) 94th session of 17-21 November in London, the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) relates to ships operating in waters surrounding both poles.

Also adopted were related amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to make the Code mandatory - marking an historic milestone in the Organisation’s work to protect ships and people aboard them, both seafarers and passengers, in the harsh environment of the waters surrounding the poles.

IMO explains that ships trading in the polar regions already have to comply with all relevant IMO international standards, but the newly-adopted SOLAS chapter XIV 'Safety measures for ships operating in polar waters' adds additional requirements by mandating the Polar Code.

The Polar Code highlights the potential hazards of operating in polar regions, including ice, remoteness and rapidly-changing and severe weather conditions, and provides goals and functional requirements in relation to ship design, construction, equipment, operations, training and SAR relevant to operations in Arctic and Antarctic waters.

The expected date of entry into force of the SOLAS amendments is 1 January 2017 - it will apply to new ships constructed after that date. Ships constructed before 1 January 2017 will be required to meet requirements of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey - whichever occurs first - after 1 January 2018.

IMO adds that, because it contains both safety- and environment-related provisions, the Polar Code will be mandatory under both SOLAS and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). In October 2014, IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) approved the necessary draft amendments to make the environmental provisions in the the Polar Code mandatory under MARPOL.

The MEPC is expected to adopt the Code and associated MARPOL amendments at its next session in May 2015, with an entry-into-force date to be aligned with the SOLAS amendments.

Details from IMO below . .

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