The Polar Code film shows how this new IMO instrument supports safe and environmentally-friendly shipping in the Arctic and Antarctic waters. The Polar Code entered into force on 1 January 2017, setting out mandatory standards that cover the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training and environmental protection matters for ships making polar voyages.
Ships are already subject to strict environmental regulations under the MARPOL convention, but the Polar Code adds another level. Discharging oil or oily mixtures into the sea, for example, is strictly prohibited under the Polar Code, and all oil tankers must have double hull and double bottom construction to prevent oil spills in case of an accident.
To make the new film about the Polar Code, an IMO team visited the Ocean Diamond en voyage in the Antarctic, to find out at first-hand what the Code means for ships like this.
IMO’s new film shows some of the equipment specific to polar operations carried aboard Ocean Diamond – the ice picks needed to hack off any ice build-up on deck and the thermal suits for crew and passengers to be used in case of emergency, for example; and the system incorporated into the large windows on the bridge to pour hot water down the outside to melt the ice, as well as a heated panel to ensure visibility remains perfect.
For the crew, navigating in polar waters places special challenges. More seafarers will need to get these skills, as shipping activity in polar regions is set to grow in volume and diversity over the coming years. Receding sea ice is opening up these inhospitable regions to both commercial shipping and tourism.
As the film stresses, the issue is not whether this activity is a good thing. The issue how it is managed so that we protect the environment and safeguard the lives of people who live and work in such a remote arena.