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ISSN 2083-6473
ISSN 2083-6481 (electronic version)




Associate Editor
Prof. Tomasz Neumann

Published by
TransNav, Faculty of Navigation
Gdynia Maritime University
3, John Paul II Avenue
81-345 Gdynia, POLAND
The Polar Code's Implications for Safe Ship Operations in the Arctic Region
ABSTRACT: Simultaneously with a decreasing sea ice cover in the Arctic region an increase in ship traffic is experienced in these waters, meaning a higher probability of accidents and incidents to occur. The capability to handle emergency situations for shipowners, operators and rescuers in a cold climate environment are heavily affected by the risks present in polar waters and depends on limited emergency response resources covering extremely large areas. In 2017, the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (The Polar Code) was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), applicable for the Arctic and Antarctic regions. The goals of the functionally based regulation are to provide for safe ship operations and the protection of the polar environment, by addressing risks present in polar waters and to ensure these are mitigated sufficiently. A qualitative pilot study, with individual expert interviews, has been conducted in order to examine the Polar Code's implications for safe ship operations in the Arctic region. The study concludes that the discussions raised in the aftermath of the Polar Code has led to an increase in focus and a strengthen consciousness about hazards and risks associated with polar water ship operations and additional measures required to mitigate these. Further, the implementation of the Polar Code is considered as a milestone by establishing an international regulation, mandatory for polar water ship design and for voyage planning. However, the study points out that the main principle of the Polar Code is risk-based, meaning the performance of safe ship operations are depending on those subjects to the regulation, to conduct thorough operational risk assessments covering all actual hazards, and to ensure that those are mitigated sufficiently. In this regard, authority presence is found crucial, to validate the adequacy and the dimensioning of the implemented measures. Key words: Arctic ship operations; regulatory governance; emergency response; risk management.
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Citation note:
Engtrø E., Gudmestad O.T., Njå O.: The Polar Code's Implications for Safe Ship Operations in the Arctic Region. TransNav, the International Journal on Marine Navigation and Safety of Sea Transportation, Vol. 14, No. 3, doi:10.12716/1001.14.03.18, pp. 655-661, 2020
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