All you need to know about POLAR CODE


The goal of this Code is to provide for safe ship operation and the protection of the polar environment by addressing risks present in polar waters and not adequately mitigated by other instruments of the Organization.

This Code consists of Introduction, parts I and II. The Introduction contains mandatory provisions applicable to both parts I and II. Part I is subdivided into part I-A, which contains mandatory provisions on safety measures, and part I-B containing recommendations on safety. Part II is subdivided into part II-A, which contains mandatory provisions on pollution prevention, and part II-B containing recommendations on pollution prevention.




1 Goal

2 Definitions

3 Sources of hazards

4 Structure of the code

5 Figures illustrating the Antarctic area and Arctic waters

Part I-A: Safety Measures

Chapter 1 - General

Chapter 2 - Polar Water Operational Manual

Chapter 3 - Ship Structure

Chapter 4 - Subdivision and Stability

Chapter 5 - Watertight and Weathertight Integrity

Chapter 6 - Machinery Installations

Chapter 7 - Fire Safety / Protection

Chapter 8 - Life Saving appliances and Arrangements

Chapter 9 - Safety of Navigation

Chapter 10 - Communication

Chapter 11 - Voyage Planning

Chapter 12 - Manning and Training

Part I-B: Additional Guidance regarding the Provisions of the Introduction and Part I-A

Part II-A: Pollution prevention measures

Chapter 1 - Prevention of Pollution by oil

Chapter 2 - Control of pollution by Noxious liquid substances in bulk

Chapter 3 - Prevention of pollution by Harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form

Chapter 4 - Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships

Chapter 5 - Prevention of pollution by garbage from Ships

Part II-B: Additional Guidance to Part II-A

Every ship to which this Code applies shall have on board a valid Polar Ship Certificate.

Important Terms

-Category A ship means a ship designed for operation in polar waters in at least medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions

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-Category B ship means a ship not included in category A, designed for operation in polar waters in at least thin first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions.

-Category C ship means a ship designed to operate in open water or in ice conditions less severe than those included in categories A and B.

-First-year ice means sea ice of not more than one winter growth developing from young ice with thickness from 0.3 m to 2.0 m.

-Medium first-year ice means first-year ice of 70 cm to 120 cm thickness.

-Old ice means sea ice which has survived at least one summer's melt; typical thickness up to 3 m or more. It is subdivided into residual first-year ice, second-year ice and multi-year ice.

-Open water means a large area of freely navigable water in which sea ice is present in concentrations less than 1/10. No ice of land origin is present.

-Thin first-year ice means first-year ice 30 cm to 70 cm thick.

Application of POLAR CODE

polar codepolar code


The goal of this manual is to provide the owner, operator, master and crew with sufficient information regarding the ship's operational capabilities and limitations in order to support their decision-making process

The Manual shall include:

i) information on the ship-specific capabilities and limitations

ii) to specific procedures to be followed in normal operations and in order to avoid encountering conditions that exceed the ship's capabilities.

- voyage planning to avoid ice and/or temperatures that exceed the ship's design capabilities or limitations;

- arrangements for receiving forecasts of the environmental conditions;

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- means of addressing any limitations of the hydrographic, meteorological and navigational information available;

- operation of equipment required under other chapters of this Code; and

- implementation of special measures to maintain equipment and system functionality under low temperatures, topside icing and the presence of sea ice, as applicable.

iii) specific procedures to be followed in the event of incidents in polar waters.

- contacting emergency response providers for salvage, search and rescue (SAR), spill response, etc., as applicable; and

- in the case of ships ice strengthened in accordance with chapter 3, procedures for maintaining life support and ship integrity in the event of prolonged entrapment by ice.

iv) procedures to be followed when using icebreaker assistance, as applicable

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