NMA: New Safety Rules for Svalbard

Norway is expected to introduce new safety rules for Svalbard Jan. 1, 2020.

The Norwegian Maritime Administration (NMA) is in the process of fine-tuning its soon-to-be introduced updated safety regulations for passenger vessels operating in Norwegian territorial waters around Svalbard, according to the 2019 Expedition Market Report by Cruise Industry News.

The basic issue is that ships operating in Svalbard have Passenger Ship Safety Certificates for Class A, B or C, according to the NMA, or another national certificate allowing operation in Svalbard. Thus, the alternative national certificates could in principle mean a variety of safety standards and lead to ships operating in the region without Polar Code compliance.

 Among the new requirements, the NMA wants expedition ship standards raised to SOLAS levels for safe return to port, meaning two main zones aboard allowing passengers to evacuate to a safe area in case of fire.

The NMA also wants expedition ships to comply with the latest SOLAS standards for damage stability.

These lifeboats will no longer be acceptable.

With large uncharted waters in the region, new areas becoming accessible as ice melts, and ice conditions that are constantly changing, local conditions offer particular risk factors that if not addressed could increase the likelihood of accidents, the NMA stated.

There have been 24 groundings by passenger ships in Svalbard since 1993.

The overall objective of the new regulations is to reduce the risk of incidents in Svalbard and consequently damage to life and the environment.

Other requirements concern tender activity, which is not regulated by conventions, and ships’ ability to handle illness and injuries, including hospital accommodations and helicopter evacuations.

All persons in open tenders will be required to wear full-body suits with thermal protection and floatation devices when they embark and disembark.

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About the Expedition Market Report:

The 2019 Expedition Market Report by Cruise Industry News is a comprehensive overview of the booming expedition market, profiling 39 operators, over 40 new ships and projecting capacity growth through 2027. The 196-page PDF is a deep dive into all aspects of the expedition cruise market.

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