ABS supports IMO adoption of a mandatory Polar Code
ABS, a leading provider of maritime and offshore classification services, is pleased that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has formally adopted the remaining parts of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code).
According to ABS Shared Technology Director James Bond, an active participant on the IMO group tasked with establishing new requirements, the Polar Code is essential for industry. “The formal adoption of the Polar Code is a powerful step forward toward safe and sustainable Polar activities,” he says, noting that this milestone is the result of more than two decades of work led by the IMO to promote safety and reduce maritime environmental pollution in Arctic and Antarctic waters.
The Polar Code, formally adopted on 15 May 2015 at the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting in London, covers a broad spectrum of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection measures. It is the first mandatory IMO instrument to formally introduce the notion of ice classes and sets a new precedent for the certification and approval of onboard equipment and safety systems exposed to low air temperatures and ice accretion. Entry-into-force is set for 1 January 2017.
The Polar Code will require ships operating in Polar waters to have a Polar Ship Certificate that states operational limits and the Polar Service Temperature for the ship. Operational limits are to be established based on procedures recognized by a flag administration per a circular being developed by the IMO. Working through the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), ABS played a leading role in developing POLARIS, a procedure that can be used to establish operational limits. ABS is streamlining the application of POLARIS guidance for use by operators and is prepared to coordinate with major flag administrations to clarify varying interpretations.
Recognizing the industry need for information as regulations change, ABS will publish the ABS Advisory Note on the Polar Code as an introductory knowledge book and general guidance in late 2015 to assist operators working to address compliance challenges.
As a member of IACS, ABS has been integral in developing and promoting the IACS Unified Requirement for Polar Class Ships, which are directly referenced in the Polar Code’s regulations for hull structures and machinery. ABS representatives are working within IACS in various hull panel and machinery project teams to further improve these standards and develop effective unified interpretations, guidance and new harmonized requirements to support the IMO regulations. Bond, who chairs the Expert Group to coordinate all Polar Code related task items within IACS, has participated as a member and technical adviser to the US delegation to IMO on Polar Code matters.
Founded in 1862, ABS is a leading international classification society devoted to promoting the security of life and property and preserving the natural environment through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine and offshore assets.