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Lloyd’s Register (LR) has issued a statutory alert on the Polar Code which enters into force on Jan. 1, 2017. The IMO International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) applies to all ships. As the Code includes additional requirements to both SOLAS and MARPOL, the application requirements for different parts of the Code differ.

According to LR, the safety part of the Code (Part IA) applies to new ships carrying SOLAS certificates with a keel lay date on or after 1 January 2017. Part IA also applies to existing ships from their first intermediate or renewal survey (whichever comes first) on or after Jan.1, 2018. The environmental protection part of the Code (Part IIA) applies to all ships and offshore assets operating in polar waters from 1 January 2017.

This Class News release focuses on Part IIA compliance.

Part IIA contains requirements that can usually be met with shipboard operations – no structural modifications are necessary. Operators of ships and offshore assets in polar waters should ensure that existing procedures and manuals are updated to reflect Polar Code requirements by this date. In addition, where operators choose to install new equipment (e.g. new garbage compactors to manage increased garbage retention on board) or designate new tanks for holding oil and oily mixtures, certification may need updating to reflect the modifications.

The key requirements in Part IIA are: Zero discharge of oil and oily mixtures when operating in polar waters. Zero discharge of noxious liquid substances. Additional limitations above MARPOL Annex IV requirements for discharge of sewage. And additional limitations above MARPOL Annex V requirements for discharge of garbage.

Recommended actions for owners and operators of ships and offshore assets intending to operate in polar waters on or after 1 January 2017 are: Reviewing Part IIA of the Polar Code. Understanding the increased capacity requirements for retaining pollutants on board while operating in polar waters. Updating the existing on-board procedures associated with the discharge of oil, oily mixtures, sewage and garbage, so as to align with Polar Code requirements.

Also, associated manuals should be updated, the Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP), the Shipboard Marine Pollution Emergency Plan (SMPEP), the cargo record book, the garbage management plan, garbage record book, placards, etc. as appropriate.

For ships operating in polar waters from Jan. 1, 2017, it is necessary only to update manuals and procedures associated with the operational requirements in Part IIA. However, if new equipment is being installed or new tanks/areas are identified for storage of pollutants on board, these may need to be incorporated into existing certification.