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Training Requirements for Polar Code Approved by IMO

Last week, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) came to an agreement on training requirements for mariners who are navigating Antarctic and Arctic waters.

What this means specifically is that navigating officers and masters must complete new training to be authorized to navigate vessels through ice. One of the new requirements is that mariners must receive a better understanding of limitations to the vessel, crew and equipment when operating in such cold, desolate regions; regions that have little or no infrastructure in the case of an accident and/or pollution.

These new requirements will soon be incorporated into the STCW Convention (the international set of rules for education and training requirements for mariners). The additions are expected to enter into force on January 1, 2018; however, nations are being urged to take more immediate action so that the regulations can be made effective at the same time as the Polar Code enters into force on January 1, 2017.

The new training regulations make a clear distinction between two levels of training for crews; basic and advanced. Additionally, navigating officers and masters of tankers and passenger shis that travel on voyages in ice must meet more comprehensive training standards.

Agreement on these new standards was reached at the second session of the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW), in connection with the upcoming regulations on navigating in polar waters or “Polar Code”. The text for the new regulations will go to the Maritime Safety Committee for approval in June of this year.

A draft of the Polar code was approved in November by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO, and the code and amendments are expected to be approved for adoption at the next MEPC session in May 2015.

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