The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code), and related amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
Marking a historic milestone in the IMO’s work to protect ships and people in the waters surrounding the North and South Poles, the Polar Code and SOLAS amendments were adopted during the 94th session of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee.
The Polar Code covers all of the potential hazards of operating in polar regions –such as 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 search and rescue, relevant to ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters. It will be mandatory under both SOLAS and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
The SOLAS amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2017 and will apply to newbuilds constructed after that date. Ships constructed before 1 January 2017 will be required to meet the relevant legislation by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after 1 January 2018.
Meanwhile, the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, which approved the necessary draft amendments to make the environmental provisions in the Polar Code mandatory under MARPOL, is expected to adopt the code and associated MARPOL amendments at its next session in May 2015.