Safety measures for yachts operating in polar waters highlighted in Cayman Maritime shipping notice

Cayman Maritime shipping notice
Cayman Maritime shipping notice

In May 2018, IMO MSC considered various proposals for safety measures for non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters. Guidelines on Safety Measures were finalized by the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction in February 2020 and were due to be adopted by MSC in May 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MSC did not meet in May 2020 and it is not known when the Guidelines on Safety Measures will be formally adopted at IMO. Cayman Maritime Shipping Notice has been issued referring to the Safety Measures finalised at IMO in February 2020 to Cayman Islands yachts of 300GT and above, not engaged in trade and operating in polar waters.

Cayman Maritime shipping notice highlights that firstly, it is important to confirm the suitability of pleasure yacht not engaged in trade to operate in polar waters, for which the following requirements are to be met:

– The vessel is to hold a valid Statement of Compliance with the REG Yacht Code; compliance with ISPS and MLC may be excluded
– The vessel’s Class Society are to confirm that the vessel is suitable for the intended voyage.
– The Master or ISM Manager (if vessel >500GT) is to submit a risk assessment taking into account any items in the – Safety Measures which are over and above REG Yacht Code Compliance.
– Compliance with MARPOL Annex I chapter 11 (Polar Code part II-A chapter 1), as applicable

Source of hazards

Safety Measures consider hazards which may expose pleasure yachts to elevated levels of risk, some of which are unique to polar conditions. These include:
– ice, as it may affect hull structure, stability characteristics, machinery systems, navigation, the outdoor working environment, maintenance and emergency preparedness tasks and malfunction of safety equipment and systems;
– experiencing topside icing, with potential reduction of stability and equipment functionality;
– low temperature, as it affects the working environment and human performance, maintenance and emergency preparedness tasks, material properties and equipment efficiency, survival time and performance of safety equipment and systems;
– extended periods of darkness or daylight as it may affect navigation and human performance;
– high latitude, as it affects navigation systems, communication systems and the quality of ice imagery information;
– remoteness and possible lack of accurate and complete hydrographic data and information, reduced availability of navigational aids and seamarks with increased potential for groundings compounded by remoteness, limited readily deployable search and rescue (SAR) facilities, delays in emergency response and limited communications capability, with the potential to affect incident response;
– potential lack of experience in polar operations, with potential for human error;
– potential lack of suitable emergency response equipment, with the potential for limiting the effectiveness of mitigation measures; and
– rapidly changing and severe weather conditions, with the potential for escalation of incidents.

The risk level within polar waters may differ depending on the geographical location, time of the year with respect to daylight, ice-coverage, etc. Therefore, mitigating measures suitable to address the above specific hazards may vary within polar waters and may be different in Arctic waters and the Antarctic area.

Safety Measures also recognize that while Arctic waters and the Antarctic area have a number of similarities, there are also significant differences, and that the specific features of the legal and political regimes applicable to their respective vulnerable marine environments should be taken into account.

Read the Cayman Maritime shipping notice: CISN-2020-06-Rev-1-Pleasure-yachts-in-polar-waters

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