Implementation of the Polar Code: Functional Requirements Regulating Ship Operations in Polar Waters

  • Espen Engtrø University of Stavanger, Norway
  • Ove Tobias Gudmestad University of Stavanger, Norway
  • Ove Njå University of Stavanger, Norway

Abstract

In 2017, the The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) – a set of function-based regulations applicable to Arctic and Antarctic waters, with the goal of increasing awareness and improving safety for ship operations in polar waters – entered into force. This article examines the Polar Code’s contribution to the establishment of new standards and guidelines, with the problem under discussion being the extent to which the function-based regulations contribute to enhancing safety for ship operations in the Arctic, given that maritime activities in these waters are associated with great risks and uncertainties. The article gives a historical review, elucidating the background leading to the development of the Polar Code, followed by a review of the structure and key principles of the regulations. Further, ship traffic in the Arctic region and those subject to the Polar Code are examined, followed by a summary of findings and experiences from three survival exercises (SARex I, II and III), performed in northern areas around Svalbard between 2016 and 2018. The article concludes that safe ship operations depend on those subject to the regulations conducting thorough operational risk assessments that cover all potential hazards, in order to mitigate sufficiently. Further, the presence of authorities is found to be crucial, with validation of the adequacy and the dimensioning of the implemented measures being of the essence.

Author Biographies

Espen Engtrø, University of Stavanger, Norway

Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Safety, Economics and Planning

Ove Tobias Gudmestad, University of Stavanger, Norway

Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Mechanical and Structural Engineering and Materials Science

Ove Njå, University of Stavanger, Norway

Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Safety, Economics and Planning

Published
2020-08-19
How to Cite
Engtrø, E., Gudmestad, O. T., & Njå, O. (2020). Implementation of the Polar Code: Functional Requirements Regulating Ship Operations in Polar Waters. Arctic Review, 11, 47-69. https://doi.org/10.23865/arctic.v11.2240
Section
Original Articles
Keywords
Arctic shipping, risk management, emergency response, regulatory governance